Results in the five states where elections were held in February-March 2022 show that the ruling class has achieved its immediate aim. The victory of Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab and of BJP in all the four other states including Uttar Pradesh has been brought about by the bourgeoisie, headed by the monopoly capitalists.
These elections were held at a time when workers, peasants and other toiling people have faced unprecedented levels of economic hardship, unemployment and insecurity of livelihood. The past three years have witnessed mass protests all over the country. The anti-CAA protests, the growing participation of workers in general strikes, the growth of the kisan andolan and the unity in action being developed against privatisation, taken together, pose a threat to the credibility of the system of parliamentary democracy through which the bourgeoisie rules.
The ruling class first succeeded in clearing Delhi’s borders of the protesting kisans and sending them back home, three months prior to these elections. The elections have been used to strengthen the hands of the BJP government headed by Narendra Modi, so that it can continue attacking the livelihood and rights of workers and peasants and guaranteeing maximum profits for the monopoly capitalists. At the same time, the ruling class has used these elections to promote parliamentary alternatives to the BJP to deceive the workers and peasants.
The Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas, Adanis and other monopoly capitalist billionaires head the ruling class. In collaboration with foreign monopoly capitalists and imperialist powers, they determine the outcome of elections. They do so with their enormous money power and domination over the state machinery, control over news and social media, and their ability to manipulate electronic voting machines.
As far as the monopoly capitalists are concerned, the BJP has delivered very good results in recent years. At a time when the whole world is in deep crisis, the profits of the Indian monopoly houses have shot up steeply.
Based on the false premise that elections in this system reflect the political preferences of people, all kinds of conclusions are drawn from the results. Several bourgeois journalists and so-called experts have drawn the conclusion that Punjabis want change while the people of UP allegedly want the BJP headed by Yogi to continue. Some others claim that these results reflect the growing influence of “right wing” politics. All these conclusions are wrong because it is not the people who determine the outcome of elections in the existing system. It is the ruling class which determines the outcome of elections. The result reflects the plan of the bourgeoisie and not at all the will or preferences of the toiling masses of people.
We communists need to oppose all forms of conciliation with the bourgeois illusion that people are deciding election results. We must reject the view that the struggle is between a “right wing” and a “left wing” of the bourgeoisie. Marxist science has established that the struggle is between the proletariat and bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie has generated a diversionary debate around the desirability of moving from the present “First past the Post” system to some form of “Proportional Representation”. This is presented as the solution to the differences between vote shares and seat shares of parties in the present electoral system. For instance, with 41 percent vote share, BJP has won more than 60 percent of the seats in UP. The Samajwadi Party, with 32 percent vote share, has 28 percent of seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party, with 13 percent vote share, has less than 1 percent of the seats.
Both ‘first-past-the-post’ and ‘proportional representation’ are just two different methods of distributing seats in the legislative body among parties of the bourgeoisie. The debate about proportional representation serves to divert the attention of people from the fundamental flaws in the existing political process. It serves to focus attention only on one particular feature – that is, the difference between vote shares and seat shares. This is not the main problem with the existing political process.
The fundamental flaws in the existing political process include the following:
- Candidates for election are selected by parties; people have no say in who can be a candidate and who cannot;
- Private financing of election campaigns and media coverage leads to an extremely huge discrepancy between the candidates of a few parties and all other candidates;
- Elected representatives are accountable only to their party high command and not to the people who they are supposed to represent;
- Those who vote have no right to recall their elected representative at any time;
- Power to decide on laws and policies are concentrated in the hands of elected representatives, with people having no say;
- Elected representatives get divided into ruling and opposition camps, with executive power concentrated in the hands of a small clique, the Cabinet; and
- The executive is not accountable to the elected legislative body and those elected are not accountable to those who vote.
It is in the interest of workers, peasants, women and youth to demand that the fundamental flaws in the political process must be addressed.
The aim of the struggle of workers and peasants is to replace the rule of the bourgeoisie with the rule of workers and peasants. Then the economy can be reoriented to fuflll the needs of the people, instead of its present orientation of fulfilling capitalist greed. The struggle for changes in the political system and process that will lead to the empowerment of the people is part of this struggle.