Call of Lok Raj Sangathan on the occasion of the elections to the Rajasthan State Assembly, 23 November, 2018

Elections to the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly will take place on 7th December. Apart from BJP and Congress, Rajasthan Loktantrik Morcha, Bahujan Samaj Party and many others are contesting these elections. Candidates selected by people organised in different forms of sangharsh samitis are also contesting in several constituencies.

These elections are taking place at a time when farmers, factory workers, road transport workers, doctors, teachers, youth and students are all out on the streets demanding their rights. There is widespread mass opposition to the privatisation of health, education and public transport. There is growing opposition to pro-capitalist reforms in labour laws. Youth are demanding their right to secure employment. People in towns and villages are protesting against the government for depriving them of food security.

Farmers are demanding that the government must guarantee the security of their livelihood. For over ten years, they have been demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report. The Central and state governments have refused to do so. Even when it announces a Minimum Support Price for a crop, it has not created mechanism to procure the crop. Weighed down by mounting debts to banks and other moneylenders, farmers are being increasingly driven to suicide,. People are angry that the same government that writes off lakhs of crores of debt of big corporate houses refuses to waive the debts of farmers.

More and more people are realising that no matter which party is in power, it acts in the interests of a rich minority that dictate the economic orientation. It is this rich minority that sets the agenda for society and the parties in power implement it. People have no role, except casting their vote for this or that party of the rich minority, at election time. People are demanding the right to put forth their own agenda, and create a real alternative to the present system. People want to become the rulers, not just in name but in reality.

In the course of their struggles, working people have formed many organs of united struggle, on a non-partisan basis. Kisan Mazdoor Vyapari Sangharsh Samitis, Lok Sangharsh Samitis and other such organisations are waging a courageous struggle in defence of people’s rights, rising above all petty party rivalries. Communists belonging to different parties have come together to lead the struggles of workers and peasants.

Five years ago, BJP came to powerpromising 15 lakh jobs for the unemployed youth. In the past four years, only 157,000 job openings were announced in the government and public services, of which only 41,800 were actually filled. With their lies exposed, the spokespersons of BJP are now claiming that they never promised jobs, only “skill training”! Of what use is skill training if it does not guarantee a job?

Congress Party is promising unemployed youth Rs 3500 a month if it comes to power. This is an open admission that it has no intention of ensuring jobs for all.

Neither BJP nor Congress has any intention of fulfilling the farmers’ demand that the government must guarantee the procurement of all agricultural produce at remunerative prices, including milk, vegetables, food grains, pulses and oilseeds. They do not want to hurt the interests of private companies which are expanding their share of farm procurement year after year. They have even allowed foreign multinational companies to expand their sale of milk powder, driving the milk producers of Rajasthan into ruin.

BJP and Congress have replaced each other once every five years in Rajasthan. There has been no change in the anti-worker, anti-farmer and anti-people orientation of the economy or in the deceptive, divisive and diversionary nature of their politics.

There has been an escalation of communal terror in the state. Brutal attacks on Muslims and Dalits have been unleashed on one pretext or another. The administration has tacitly supported these criminal acts by not apprehending those guilty of such crimes. On the contrary, it has filed cases against the victims. Migrant labourers from among these sections have fled the state for fear of their lives. Through such attacks the rulers havespread a climate of fear and insecurity amongst all sections of the people. Both BJP and Congress have been openly and secretly exacerbating caste and religious differences. All this is being done to prevent people from uniting around their own program, and building their own organisations of struggle.

When in charge, both BJP and Congress have implemented the same program of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation. This is a program aimed at guaranteeing maximum profits for the Tatas, Reliance, Birlas and other corporate houses.Public spending on education, health, transport and other basic services have been cut back so as to create space for private companies to reap profits, in the name of public-private partnership (PPP). The Note Ban and GST have led to further destruction of jobs, by driving many small business enterprises to ruin.

Lok Raj Sangathan calls on Rajasthan voters to reject both BJP and Congress! To vote for one of these parties means to support the continued rule of a super-rich minority. One is no less evil than the other as far as the people are concerned.

Many parties and organisations of the working people are putting forward their tried and tested activists as candidates in the coming elections. However, they face an uphill battle. The electoral arena is skewed in favour of the candidate of parties backed by big money power. Spokespersons of BJP and Congress get maximum time on TV channels. Any serious discussion of the people’s problems is prevented by the“tu tu mein mein” blame game and false promises of these two parties.

Elections in the existing political system are designed to line up the people behind one or another rival party of the wealthy ruling class. The corporate houses pour thousands of crores of rupees into the election campaigns of their trusted parties. Such parties mobilise people on the basis of religion and caste. They make people fight one another, so as to weaken and break their united resistance to the course being followed.

A false impression is created that people decide who should rule and how society is to be ruled. In fact, it is a tiny coterie which is making all the important public decisions. The vast majority of people are completely excluded from the decision-making process. Otherwise, how is it possible for the Government of Rajasthan to enact laws and adopt policies that hurt the interests of the toiling majority of people?

The source of all our problems lies in a system of rule which is democratic only in name. In reality it is a dictatorship exercised by a tiny minority, headed by big capitalist corporations, Indian and foreign. These corporate interests are using elections in their own narrow interest. When one of their trusted parties is discredited, they use elections to replace it by another of their trusted parties, with no change in the course being followed.

The party dominated system of governance and its political process are designed to exclude the vast majority of people. People are made to choose between candidates who are selected behind their backs by rival parties of vested interests. They have no control over their elected representatives. The elected legislative body has virtually no control over the decisions and actions of the executive.

Lok Raj Sangathan believes that for prosperity and protection to be guaranteed for all, we need a thoroughgoing transformation of political power. Instead of political power being an instrument of rule of a tiny minority of super-rich over the people, it must become the instrument in the hands of the people to govern themselves. When people have political power, they will be able to ensure that prosperity and protection is provided to all, irrespective of their religion, language, caste, region etc. They will ensure that human rights are guaranteed and enforceable, including the right to follow ones beliefs without fear of persecution.

We need to fight for a fundamental change in the political system and electoral process, so as to empower the people.

The executive must be accountable to the elected legislative body and the legislators must be accountable to the people.

People need to have a say in the selection of candidates and not leave it in the hands of the leadership of rival parties backed by big money power. Not only parties but all organisations of the people, including workers’ unions, farmers’ associations, women’s organisations and sangharsh samitismust have equal right to nominate candidates for election. All selected candidates must be given equal time and opportunity to propagate their views. The State must finance the entire process and not permit any other election funding, either by the individual candidates or by political parties.

People’s role cannot begin and end on voting day. Voters must have the right to hold elected representatives to account and to recall them at any time. They must have the right to propose laws and policy changes, and to approve major decisions through referendum.

Constituency committees must be established to ensure that people can exercise their right to select and elect representatives from among their midst, the right to recall 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 people’s name.

Lok Raj Sangathan calls upon the sangharsh samitis to use the coming elections to advance the program of people’s empowerment. They must select and elect from amongst their midst, those who have a proven track record of fighting for the rights of the people. They must demand that those elected must render periodic accounts to the people.

Let us build and strengthen our political unity around the aim of ending the dictatorship of corporate houses and empowering the people!

Let us defeat all forces which are engaged in diverting and dividing the people on the basis of religion, caste or some other narrow sectarian basis, so as to preserve the existing unjust system of rule!

Let us reject and defeat candidates of BJP and Congress Party!

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