Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, January 17, 2022
January 26 marks the 72nd anniversary of the proclamation of India as a Republic. On this day in 1950, the Constitution adopted by the Constituent Assembly came into effect. It replaced the old colonial Government of India Act (1935) as the fundamental law of the land. India was transformed from a Constitutional Monarchy with King George VI as head of state, into a Republic with a President as Head of State.
The Preamble of the Constitution refers to the people as being the supreme decision makers. However, the reality of the Indian Republic is that only elected representatives have decision-making power, and they represent the narrow interests of capitalists and not the toiling majority of people. The Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister has exclusive right to make policy decisions. The Parliament has exclusive right to make new laws. People have no role in deciding what should be the laws and policies.
When British rule came to an end, the Constitution which was adopted conceded the popular demand for universal adult franchise to replace the limited franchise which existed under the colonial Government of India Act of 1935. However, 72 years of this Republic confirms that universal adult franchise by itself does not guarantee supreme power in the hands of the people.
Workers and peasants constitute the vast majority of people in our country. However, the Indian Republic has never reflected the will of workers and peasants. The vast majority of workers and peasants are forced to live lives of terrible insecurity.
Every government that has come to power in the past 72 years has implemented the agenda set by the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly capitalists. This is the agenda of enriching the capitalist class by intensifying the exploitation of workers, robbery of the peasants, and plunder of India’s natural resources. This agenda has been marketed by different governments under different slogans. JRD Tata, Ghanshyam Das Birla, and other big capitalists wrote the Bombay Plan or the Tata Birla Plan in 1946, which was marketed as the “Socialistic pattern of society” by Jawaharlal Nehru.
Whether it was Indira Gandhi’s Garibi Hatao, Narasimha Rao’s liberalisation and privatisation program, Manmohan Singh’s growth with a human face, or Narendra Modi’s “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”, the biggest capitalists have been amassing an incredible amount of wealth, while the masses of workers and peasants face an uncertain future.
Crores of workers have been fighting for the repeal of four anti-worker labour codes. They are demanding social security for all workers. They have been demanding a halt to the privatisation of railways, electricity distribution, ordinance factories, petroleum companies, banks, insurance companies, Coal mines, steel plants, roadways, shipping, ports and docks, Air India, BSNL, higher education, etc. Kisans are demanding that the government establish a universal procurement system for agricultural produce and guarantee a Minimum Support Price for all crops that are produced anywhere in India. The demands of workers and peasants are suppressed. Their struggles are treated as a law and order problem. The demands of the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas, Adanis and other monopoly capitalists are always fulfilled.
In a few weeks from now, the electorate of the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa will be asked to cast their vote. In each of these states, two or more parties and coalitions are being presented by the news media as “alternatives” to each other. People are being asked to choose between one of these “alternatives”. The truth is that both BJP and the so called alternatives to BJP in various states are being promoted by the same capitalist class. Where the established rival parties are highly discredited in the people’s eyes, the capitalist class promotes some so-called new party, new faces and slogans to deceive the people. No matter which of these rival parties wins a majority in the elections and forms the government, it is the agenda of liberalisation and privatisation which will get implemented. The concerns of the toiling people will not be addressed.
It is not the people who will decide which party or coalition will be given charge of the government for the next five years. The capitalist class headed by the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas, Adanis and other monopoly capitalists decides this. At the same time, the ruling class promotes the false consciousness among workers and peasants that it is their vote that decides the outcome of elections. Life experience shows that it is the monopoly capitalists who determine election outcomes, using their huge money power, their domination of TV and social media, and their ability to manipulate electronic voting machines.
When India became independent, and at the time the Constituent Assembly was working on a draft Constitution for India, there were two kinds of republics in the world. One was the old type of republic which existed in USA, France and other capitalist countries. These states pretended to represent all classes of society, while in fact they were organs of dictatorship of the capitalist class over the working class and other toiling people. The other type was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Constitution of the Soviet Union openly proclaimed that supreme power was in the hands of the working class, in alliance with other toilers. It was an organ of rule by the majority of working people over the minority of exploiters, the capitalists and landlords.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a voluntary union of many nations, each guaranteed the right to self-determination up to and including secession.
The Constituent Assembly discussed and decided that it would follow the example of the kind of republics which existed in capitalist countries. It decided to adopt and adapt the model of democracy which existed in Britain, which had already been introduced to some extent in British India. About three-fourths of the 1950 Constitution was reproduced from the Government of India Act passed by the British Parliament in 1935.
India’s parliamentary democracy is based on the political theory of the Royal Prerogative, of sovereignty being vested in the “king in parliament”. The difference is only that instead of the king or queen being sovereign but duty bound to approve what the Cabinet decides, in India it is the President who is held to be sovereign but duty bound to approve whatever the Cabinet decides.
The political process is based on the theory that workers and peasants are incapable of being decision makers and hence need parties financed by the capitalist class to decide for them. Such parties are headed by politicians trained in saying what people like to hear while acting strictly in the interests of the wealthiest capitalists. These parties dominate the entire electoral process, from candidate selection to government formation. People have no role whatsoever except to cast their vote.
The members of the Constituent Assembly justified their decision with the standard capitalist argument that the Soviet state was a dictatorship whereas the British and American states were democratic. This so-called argument ignores the fact that in a society divided into classes with opposite interests, the State will have to be an organ of dictatorship of one class over the other.
The interests of the capitalist class and the interests of the working class are irreconcilably opposed to each other. It is therefore not possible for political power to represent both these classes. Either it will be the power of the capitalist class or the power of the working class. When the capitalist class is in power, it is a democracy only for a minority; it is a dictatorship over the toiling majority. When the working class is in power, it is a democracy for the vast majority and a dictatorship over the exploiting minority.
The Constitution of the Indian Republic protects the so-called right of capitalists to accumulate their wealth but does not guarantee human rights or democratic rights. It has legalized Preventive Detention Laws like UAPA. Thousands of political activists are rotting in the jails of the republic, accused of being “terrorists”, “separatists” or “anti-national”.
This Republic is a prison house for Kashmiris, Nagas, Manipuris, Assamese and many other nations. The peoples of these nations are groaning under the jackboots of the armed forces. The colonial era Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which was originally passed by the British Raj in 1942 to suppress the anti-colonial liberation struggle of our people, is being used to crush the national aspirations of people in numerous parts of the country.
Various political forces in our country promote the false impression that this Republic and its Constitution are democratic, while it is the BJP and some other fascist forces which are the problem. They call on workers and peasants to “reclaim the republic and its constitution”. The Indian Republic has always been an instrument to safeguard the interests of capitalists and deprive workers and peasants of their rights. Workers and peasants cannot have as their political aim, “reclaiming” this Republic and its Constitution.
We workers and peasants need to reconstitute the Indian Republic on a new foundation. We need to adopt a new constitution which ensures that decision-making power is in the hands of the people. Workers and peasants must have the right to select the candidates for election, hold their elected representative to account, and to recall that person at any time. People must have the right to propose, approve or reject laws and policies.
The Indian Republic must be a voluntary union of consenting nations and peoples, with the right to self-determination guaranteed to each constituent. The new Constitution must guarantee the right to conscience, as well as human and democratic rights of everyone.
With political power in our hands, we workers and peasants will be able to reorient the economy from fulfilling capitalist greed to fulfilling human needs. We will be able to usher in a new India in which the fruits of our labour will go to fulfilling the growing material and cultural needs of society.