Onward with the struggle to bring decision-making power into the people’s hands!
For many months now, huge protest demonstrations have been taking place in every nook and corner of India against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register. Lakhs of people have been participating in these protests, cutting across religion, language and caste.
The protestors have voiced their genuine fears that these decisions and measures, accompanied by the spread of Islamophobia (fear of Muslims), are meant to divide people on religious lines. They are meant to throw lakhs of Muslims into refugee camps, similar to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
Several political parties have opposed the citizenship legislation and proposed measures of the Central Government. Six state governments have already declared that they will not implement the NRC, CAA and the National Population Register in its revised format.
Spokespersons of the central government and the BJP have let loose a series of despicable lies and slanders, in order to discredit the people’s struggle. The protestors have been called the “tukde-tukde” gang and Pakistani agents. They have been portrayed as people who have come out in protest because they are getting paid or getting free biryani.
The main propaganda plank of BJP during the Delhi elections was that Muslims and others who are opposing the CAA and NRC are “national traitors”; and that BJP, if voted to power, will root them out from their protest sites.
In a press statement, the Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister threatened that “Under the Constitution, they (states) have to implement it (CAA)”. He also continued “If any government says it won’t implement it, then it is not as per the Constitution, be it the West Bengal government, Kerala, Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh government. It is an Act passed by Parliament. The states have to follow. It is in the national interest.” Many union ministers have since repeated this stand.
The arrogant statements of central ministers point to a glaring contradiction in the current system of democracy. There is a glaring gap between the proclamation that people are supreme in the “democratic Indian Republic” and the reality that people have no say at all. Even elected representatives of the States of the Union have to bow to the dictates of the Cabinet in New Delhi.
The Constitution empowers the Party with majority support in the Central Parliament to impose its will on all. Even if lakhs and lakhs of people are opposed to a law passed by Parliament, they cannot do anything about it. The Central government can invoke provisions in the Constitution to impose a legislation even if numerous state governments and crores of people are opposed to it.
The so-called exceptional provisions in the Constitution have been used so often that they have in fact become the general rule. The anti-democratic nature of the political power has been revealed again and again over the past 70 years. It was revealed during the Emergency regime of 1975-77. It was revealed when both the Congress Party and BJP collaborated in the destruction of Babri Masjid on 6th December, 1992, incited communal hatred and engulfed the country in communal bloodbaths.
It was a time when the capitalist system was in crisis, in India and on the world scale. Monopoly capitalists of the world were celebrating the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Indian monopoly houses, headed by the Tatas, Birlas and Ambanis, wanted to put the blame for all economic problems on the so-called Nehruvian socialistic policies followed until the 1980s. They wanted to open up all sectors for maximum exploitation and plunder, under the Washington inspired banner of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation.
Both Congress Party and BJP collaborated to set Hindus and Muslims at each other’s throats. Communal polarisation served to expand their respective vote banks. It served to divert and divide the resistance of workers, peasants and other working people to the anti-social economic offensive of the monopoly capitalists.
Broad masses of people throughout the country were horrified and angered by the destruction of a national monument and the spreading of communal violence and terror by the two principal parties in Parliament. At the start of the Budget Session of Parliament on 22nd February, 1993, the ruling Congress Party imposed Section 144 on the entire capital city of Delhi. In spite of the ban, a mass protest was organised at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground by the Communist Ghadar Party of India, along with activists of Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Saheli, Punjab Human Rights Organisation and Purogami Mahila Sangathan.
The bold protest action, the Kotla Rally of 1993, was widely welcomed by all those who were concerned about the criminalisation of politics and complete marginalisation of people from power.
A large number of political personalities, teachers, scholars, journalists, other professionals, retired judges and civil servants signed the Appeal issued on that day 27 years ago, calling for an end to the domination of the political process by parties of vested interests. That initiative led to the formation of the Preparatory Committee for People’s Empowerment on 11th April, 1993, which subsequently reconstituted itself as Lok Raj Sangathan in 1998.
Developments over the past 27 years have confirmed the necessity for a qualitative change in the orientation of the economy and in the system of democracy and its political process.
The capitalist monopoly houses are only about 150 in number, which is a tiny miniscule percentage of the total population. The capitalist economic system leads to growing concentration of wealth in the hands of this miniscule minority. The orientation of social production and of government policies is to fulfill the greed of Indian and foreign monopoly capitalists for maximum private profit. Fulfilment of the growing needs of workers and peasants, those who create wealth, are not of primary concern. They are incidental, left to chance. People’s needs remain unfulfilled most of the time. Conditions become especially unbearable in periods of downturn and capitalist overproduction crises.
Life experience is showing the toiling majority of people that the capitalist system cannot provide for them; and that the liberalisation and privatisation program is designed to further concentrate wealth in the hands of a miniscule minority. Today, in the year 2020, unemployment, the degree of exploitation of employed workers and the intensity of robbery of toiling peasants have all reached an unprecedented level. Opposition to the liberalisation and privatisation program has grown to an unprecedented extent, as shown by the massive participation of workers and peasants in general strikes and mass protests.
In the face of growing mass discontent, the ruling class is relying on BJP to spread communal hatred, so as to break the united resistance of people to their intensified exploitation. Through repeated acts such as the elimination of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir, construction of a Ram Temple at the site where Babri Masjid was demolished, enactment of CAA and creation of NRC, the ruling clique is doing everything possible to divert and divide the people and criminalize all forms of dissent.
People are faced with a ferocious communal onslaught aimed at destroy-ing their unity. The times are calling for an end to the capitalist dictatorship headed by the monopoly houses, which is deceptively called the most populous democracy in the world. The times are calling on the people to take decision-making power into their hands.
A fundamental problem with the present political system is that decision making power is concentrated in the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister. The Cabinet rules by decree, dictated by the interests of monopoly capitalists. It is not accountable to the legislature, which in turn is not accountable to the electorate.
The Constitution, through its reasonable restrictions clause on rights, allows the party in power to take recourse to draconian laws and suspend all liberties if need be. Taking advantage of this provision, fascist laws such as the UAPA, AFSPA and the Public Safety Act have been repeatedly used to quell the voices of people demanding their rights.
The Constitution and the Represent-ation of People Act together permit political parties backed by Indian and foreign monopoly capitalists to act against the interests of the vast majority of people, while claiming that they have the “people’s mandate” to run the country as they please.
Periodic elections have served to assist capitalist monopolies to ensure that one of their trusted parties remains in power. Such parties have faithfully implemented the agenda of the capitalist monopoly houses, at the expense of the rest of society.
The time has come for all concerned Indians to unite and advance the struggle for people’s empowerment. The disillusionment and anger among the people have to be channeled into a powerful movement for modernizing the system of democracy. We need to fight for a modern system of democracy and political process in which decision-making power is wielded by the people.
A modern democracy must recognise that India consists of numerous nations, nationalities and peoples, each with their respective rights. The Constitution must guarantee that every constituent of the Indian Union enjoys the right to self-determination. It must be based on a modern definition of citizenship. It must guarantee that the Right to Conscience is not violated under any pretext.
The Constitution must guarantee that sovereignty – decision-making power – is vested in the people. Executive power must be accountable to the elected legislative body. Elected representatives must be accountable to the people who elected them. People must have the right to initiate new laws or to reject anti-people laws.
The Representation of People Act must enable the people of every constituency to exercise the right to select candidates for election. Candidate selection must no longer be a privilege enjoyed by the leadership of a few political parties. Those who vote must have the right to recall their representatives at any time. They must also enjoy the right to initiate new laws and annul, through a referendum, any law which violates the people’s rights.
All political forces interested in empowering the people must take up the task of establishing and building people’s committees in local areas, wherever people live or work. Such samitis must take up whatever pressing problems the people face, be it lack of drinking water and sanitation, access to PDS ration shops or electricity connections. People need to unite and fight for their common interests, rising above all petty differences and party rivalries. By forging political unity of the working people around their common concerns, such samitis can gain respect in the people’s eyes. They can develop into building blocks of a modern democratic system in which people are organised to make collective decisions in their own interest.
Political parties of the capitalist class are dead opposed to the idea of people’s empowerment. This is because the interest of the capitalist class is in irreconcilable conflict with the interests of workers and peasants. The capitalist class can rule only through a system and political process that excludes the toiling majority of people from power.
Political parties of the working class and other oppressed sections of society must join hands and advance the struggle for people’s empowerment.
Communists must restore their unity by making a clean break with all forms of conciliation with the existing system of democracy. Only with unified communist leadership is it possible to establish a modern democratic rule of workers and peasants, put an end to all forms of exploitation and oppression, and ensure prosperity and protection for all.
It is we workers, peasants, women, youth, the people of different nations, nationalities and tribal communities, who together make up Indian society. It is our right as well as duty to bring about those changes in the system of democracy and its political process, to ensure that power is transferred into our hands. With decision-making power in our hands, we can take control of the principal means of production and reorient the economy to ensure prosperity and protection for all.