Approved by the All India Council of Lok Raj Sangathan, April 8, 2018 New Delhi
On the midnight of 15th August, 1947, an Indian government was installed in place of the colonial government, in the midst of the communal Partition in which an estimated 14 million people were displaced and two million people killed.1 Prime Minister Nehru declared that the gruesome killings of Partition will not happen again. However, communal violence has happened again and again, with increasing frequency and ferocity. “Divide and rule” has remained the preferred method in post-colonial India.
The new rulers of independent India claimed that we, the people, are no longer slaves; and that we have become the master of our society. However, the reality is that the vast majority of our people remain powerless victims of an oppressive system till today.
Slogans such as “garibi hatao” and “sab ka vikaas” have remained empty words. The gap between a super-rich minority and the vast majority of people has widened year after year. Discrimination and oppression based on caste and religious identity have grown from bad to worse. Violence against women has increased. Youth, facing unemployment and a bleak future, are being driven to crime and drugs. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi, the promises made by those in power have been nothing but lies.
No matter which party is in charge, the Central government has worked to divide the people on the basis of religion, caste, nationality, and language. It has exacerbated conflicts between neighbouring states on river waters, boundaries, financial allocations and other issues. The unity of the people is being constantly endangered.
State terrorism, including State-organised communal massacres, has become the preferred method of rule in our country. The State has armed itself with fascist laws under which tens of thousands of innocent people have been tortured and jailed for years on end. The people of Kashmir, Assam, Manipur and other places are forced to live under the jackboots of the armed forces.
What kind of system is this where people are targeted or killed on the basis of their faith, appearance, food, culture, dress or political views? What kind of society do we have, where women cannot walk without fear on the streets, where they are discriminated against and insulted at every step? Is it not true that no parent sleeps peacefully until their sons and daughters return home safe?
How is it possible that the Army which is supposed to protect all Indians could be ordered by the government to attack a place of worship such as the Golden Temple? How could parties running governments at the Centre and in the state brazenly organise the destruction of Babri Masjid? How can it be accepted that those who organised the genocide of Sikhs in 1984, the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, mass killing of Muslims and Hindus in 1993 and the Gujarat genocide of 2002 roam around scot free, or even worse, get promoted to high public posts?
What kind of democracy is this where a tiny minority has concentrated economic and political power in its hands and uses it to loot the country and divide and rule over the people? We, the people, are deprived of our basic rights and have no power to do anything about it!
A powerful movement for people’s empowerment emerged to combat the growing criminalisation of politics, escalating State terror and marginalisation of people from the political process. That movement gave birth to the Preparatory Committee for People’s Empowerment, which subsequently reconstituted itself as Lok Raj Sangathan.
The Preparatory Committee for People’s Empowerment (CPE) was established in April 1993, in the heat of the mass discontent and outrage that prevailed in the aftermath of the demolition of Babri Masjid and the communal violence that followed. It was formed by women and men of conscience who had been in the forefront of the struggle against communal and fascist terror. They included human rights activists, trade union activists, activists of the women’s movement, retired judges and civil servants, teachers, lawyers, workers, women, youth and peasants.
Several important conferences were organised by CPE over the following years, which attracted concerned citizens from all walks of life. The experience of the struggle against communal violence and in defence of human rights and democratic rights was summed up at such conferences. These discussions led to the conclusion that the existing system of democracy and its political process are fundamentally flawed.
In the existing political process of representative democracy, the only role the people have is to cast a vote once every few years to one or another candidate selected by rival parties of vested interests. Electoral outcomes are determined by money, muscle and media power. Once they have cast their vote, people have no further role at all. It is the agenda set by wealthy elite that gets implemented by the party in power.
Critical analysis of the existing system led to the recognition that the Constitution of India vests sovereignty in a tiny clique – the Cabinet within the Parliament, whose advice the President is duty-bound to follow.
To address these flaws, it is necessary to bring about such changes that would place the people at the centre of the decision-making process. The Constitution must vest sovereignty in the people. People must enjoy the right to select the candidates prior to any election. People must also have the right to recall the one they elected at any time and the right to initiate legislation. The role of political parties must be redefined: they must work to keep the people in power and not to usurp power in their own hands and rule in the name of the people.
After carrying out wide consultations and dis-cussion of the program for people’s empowerment, CPE was reconstituted as Lok Raj Sangathan in January 1999, as a political organisation with mass membership, open to all Indians who agree with the aim of people’s empowerment. In 2001, Lok Raj Sangathan adopted the program entitled “Vesting sovereignty in the people is the only way forward”.2
Ever since its founding, Lok Raj Sangathan has worked to build political unity in defence of the rights of all, in opposition to communalism, communal violence and all forms of State terrorism. It has consistently raised the demand that those guilty of organising communal violence against any section of the people must be punished. It has persistently worked to build people’s committees in local areas on a non-partisan basis, rising above all petty differences and party rivalries. It has built and strengthened such committees in the course of waging united struggles of the people for the realisation of human and democratic rights.
The program of action given below draws on the entire experience of building Lok Raj Sangathan, since its founding.
Program of Action
Lok Raj Sangathan carries out agitation and discussion on all those issues which are of concern to the people. These include:
- demanding constitutional guarantees for all human and democratic rights
- defending the right to conscience, that is, the right of every person to follow one’s ideological outlook, way of life and religious belief without fear of attack or reprisal
- agitating against discrimination and oppression of women and demanding protection of their rights as women and as human beings
- opposing discrimination and oppression based on caste, religion, nationality or any other basis
- demanding that the State ensures security of livelihood and prosperity to the tillers of the land and to all working people
- opposing policies that serve to enrich a minority of corporate business houses at the expense of the people and society at large
- opposing the loot of the wealth of the people and the sale of public assets to private companies
- demanding that the State fulfills its responsibility of providing nutritious food, health care, education, housing, safe drinking water, sanitation and all other basic needs of a modern, dignified human existence to all
- opposing the use of force to deal with political and economic problems
- defending the rights of all nations, nationalities and peoples within the country
- opposing all forms of persecution of any section of people, guided by the principle “an attack on one is an attack on all”
- defending the unity of our people by combating attempts to divide us on the basis of religion, caste or any other sectarian basis
- campaigning to end criminalisation and communalisation of politics
- demanding punishment of those guilty of organising communal violence and genocide
- exposing the limitations of the party dominated system of representative democracy
- agitating for a system in which sovereignty is vested in the people; demanding that people and not political parties must have the decisive say in the selection of candidates prior to election; and demanding that people must be able to hold their elected representatives to account, have the right to recall unworthy representatives at any time and have the right to initiate legislation
- developing a modern economic system that is geared to ensure secure livelihood and prosperity for all
- opposing military alliance of India with the US, and
- campaigning for peaceful and friendly relations with all neighbouring countries and opposing foreign military intervention in South Asia.
Lok Raj Sangathan uses all possible forums and forms of activity, including participating in elections, to build unity around these demands.
Indian society needs to be lifted out of the crisis in which it is stuck today. It is only the people of India who can carry out this historic task, by establishing Lok Raj. Come, let us build the political unity of our people, irrespective of ideological persuasion or party affiliation to achieve this goal! Let us, the people, organise to take India’s destiny into our hands! Let us build and strengthen Lok Raj Sangathan!
Join Lok Raj Sangathan
The people of India have a long history of fighting against injustice. We have always upheld the principle that it is the duty of the State to protect the people and guarantee their wellbeing. What is to be done when the State, instead of protecting the people and their rights, attacks them? It is the height of injustice and must not be tolerated. It is the right and duty of the people to take collective action to change this situation. An important step towards this is to join Lok Raj Sangathan.
Membership of Lok Raj Sangathan is open to all Indian citizens and persons of Indian origin. Anyone who wishes to participate in the work of bringing people to power can become a member. The membership fee is Rs 10/ per annum. All activities are funded from donations of members and others who sympathise with the cause of people’s empowerment.
The All-India Convention of Lok Raj Sangathan, convened once a year, is the highest decision-making body of the organisation. It discusses and decides all major policies and programs and elects an All-India Council to carry out the decisions. Elected regional councils lead the work in different regions. Members of Lok Raj Sangathan work to unite and organise people wherever they live or work, to fight for their rights and legitimate claims.
- “The Partition of India (New Approaches to Asian History)”, Ian Talbot and Gurharpal Singh, Cambridge University Press, 23 July 2009.
- “Vesting sovereignty in the people is the only way forward”, Program of Lok Raj Sangathan, adopted in 2001 (https://lokraj.org.in/program/english).