The Assembly elections held in five states —Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa – are over and new governments sworn in. In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party has obtained an absolute majority and replaced the Bahujan Samaj Party in power. In Punjab the Akali Dal BJP combine has retained power. In Goa, the BJP has replaced the Congress. In Manipur the Congress has retained power. In Uttarakhand, a hung assembly has led to severe infighting within the Congress Party over who should be Chief Minister, after the Congress Party bought over some independents to claim a majority.
The bourgeois media is shouting from the roof tops that this is a sign of “vibrant democracy”. According to them, “people have exercised their vote to decide to throw out or retain the party in power”. This propaganda is aimed at hiding the reality that the vast majority of people have an extremely marginal role in this process, and that too, only on polling day. They have no say in selecting the candidates for election, which is done by the leaders of rival parties. Once the votes are cast, people have no role in deciding who will form the government and what decisions it will take.
In the present system of democracy, only those parties can come to power which have the backing of the capitalist class. Different capitalist groups prop up different parties because of fierce rivalry to get the best deal for themselves through control of the state machinery. These parties use all kinds of methods to divide the toiling masses on the basis of caste, religion and ethnicity, offer favors to one group at the expense of another, to secure a majority. In the process, they smash the unity of the workers and peasants. All the bourgeois parties substitute for the people and rule in their name, each one vying with the other to portray itself as the representative of the most oppressed. If one rules in the name of Muslims, another rules in the name of dalits, and yet another rules in the name of the peasants! In fact, they all rule to serve the bourgeoisie. This was the fact in the five states that went to the polls this time. It is made out that this is a “vibrant democracy” because if a party does not fulfill its promises, it can be thrown out in the next elections. Left in the shade is the question: democracy for which class?
The present system is democracy for the capitalist class and dictatorship over the workers and peasants. It is democracy for the owners of the principal means of production. They decide through the elections whether to retain a party or coalition, or throw it out and replace it with another. The parties that are promoted are those which will implement the capitalist program most effectively by creating illusions amongst the people that their interests will be served.
We communists must work to organize the workers and peasants and make them conscious of the need to replace this capitalist democracy with a system of proletarian democracy. What is proletarian democracy? It is nothing other than democracy for the workers and peasants, and dictatorship over the exploiters.
Capitalists have found that for their rule to flourish, they need ruling and opposition parties. They need a parliament or assemblies which are talk shops, while the real business of state is carried on behind the scenes, with MPs and MLAs available for sale. Capitalists have ensured that initiating legislation is a prerogative of the party in power. Workers and peasants cannot even ask for a vote in parliament on a universal PDS, or on revoking the land acquisition bill, AFSPA, etc.The political process of proletarian democracy will ensure that the workers and peasants, organized in their workplaces and residential areas, select and elect candidates from their midst. Those who are elected will be accountable to the toiling masses. They can be voted out of office if they do not satisfactorily do their work, as the people will have the right to recall. Masses of working people will have the right to initiate legislation for the legislative body to consider and vote on.
There will be no division of elected legislative bodies into ruling and opposition camps in the system of proletarian democracy. The elected legislative body as a whole will be accountable to those who elected it. Ministers cannot do as they please but will be duty bound to implement strictly what the legislative body decides. Judges will not be nominated but elected by the people.
In sum, proletarian democracy will create the conditions for enabling the people to rule, exercise their right to set the agenda and determine their own destiny, as opposed to bourgeois democracy which serves the interests of the bourgeoisie and uses the elections to put in power one or another of its parties. With increasing exposure of this parasitic political system and its parties, the situation is calling for the reconstitution of democracy.