MEL: You have addressed the workers in your manifesto. Who do you include as “worker”?
Dharmender Kumar: I have addressed the workers because this is the largest class in society. This is the class that makes everything for society to function, and which is exploited by the capitalists to make their profits. When we say working class, we include all those who do not own the means of production and one way or another sell their labour to make a living. They include doctors, teachers, professionals, engineers, professors, computer operators in the IT industry, bus drivers, loco engine drivers, pilots and all those who work in big and small factories to earn a wage.
MEL: What are the issues faced by the residents of your constituency that you will be focusing on?
Dharmender Kumar: There are many issues in my area, of which water is the most serious issue. In many JJ colonies of my area, availability of drinking water is an issue. In areas like Govindpuri and Ghadi, there is no water even water connections exist. At the same time, people have started getting water but at a high price, thanks to privatization. Our primary concerns are to raise the broad consciousness of people to put an end of privatisation and likewise, to engage in the struggle to end privatisation of electricity.
In my constituency, there are many who earn their livelihood through vending goods on carts; it is an important struggle to find a permanent site for them. Schools do not function properly in many colonies and children have to go very far and we must organise for schools in their neighbourhood. We must organise to provide collective facilities for the fulfillment of the potential of our youth in a way that will give them direction for a future whereby they can be useful to society. We have to fight for regularization of the slum colonies. We must take appropriate steps to guarantee the safety of women and girls. We must develop non-partisan committees of the people in each area that will facilitate discussion amongst people, without any political polarisation, to find solutions for their problems.
MEL: You have been organising people in their struggles for ration, water and other issues. How do you organise the people and what are the struggles that you have provided leadership to?
Dharmender Kumar: We believe that it is the government’s responsibility to provide people with the basic necessities and equally to all, without any discrimination. However we find that the government acts in line with the agenda of the bourgeoisie instead of providing people with the basic necessities. The government is privatising the provision of basic services. We hold meetings to raise the consciousness of people. We facilitate the establishment of non-partisan samitis of the people, and assist people to demand their rights from the appropriate authority. We raise the consciousness of the people on the injustice of the prevailing political system, how the bourgeoisie makes all policy decisions to suit its interests and how it marginalises the people.
We run study classes in the samitis. We have organised and led many rallies in support of people’s right to proper toilets and public sanitation and have presented our demands to the Chief Minister. We have organised to provide ration cards to everyone and run campaigns struggled for the right of people to a universal public distribution system to ensure freedom from hunger and malnutrition. I have participated in several struggles for the establishment of Rs.15000/month as minimum wages and took a leading role in organising strikes in the Okhla Industrial Area in the context of the February 2013 All India general strike of workers. We have conducted classes to make workers understand what should be the minimum wages in Delhi, given the prices of goods and services. In the past year, we have built the political unity of many workers organisations and political parties in South Delhi in the struggle against price increases and for securing the rights of workers. We have taken out many rallies in this context.
MEL: You have mentioned in your manifesto that the present system is suffering from a serious illness. What is this illness?
Dharmender Kumar: Capitalism is the driving force of the present political force; the main aim of this economic system is to maximise the profit of the capitalists by exploiting the working class. The present political system is for a handful of political parties without any participation by the people. The present system marginalises the people not allowing them to select their representative; the mechanism for enabling this is absent. In the present system, there is no mechanism by which the people can recall their elected representative. The people have no power to make laws and they have no means of amending a bad law. In the prevailing capitalist system, political parties do not serve the people’s interests, they work in the interests of the capitalist houses who have given them fat sums of money. In the present system, political parties fix votes for their candidates in the elections; they form a government on the basis of a very small percentage of the total votes. Then these parties manage the system for the bourgeoisie. I am raising this because these political parties adopt policies only in the interest of capitalists and not in the interest of the working class. These are all many illnesses that have to be cured. For this, we are working with the people, exposing the present system. We are also presenting the alternative to this.
MEL: What is the major change that you want to make to the political system whereby the working class will have a say in significant policy decisions?
Dharmender Kumar: We want to make those fundamental changes to the system so that it enables the workers and peasants to have a say in every kind of policy. For this we will establish mechanisms that will enable the people to have a say, and give their suggestions. For instance, in my area, the decision to put up this or candidate is decided by the recognised bourgeois political parties; we will establish such a system that will guarantee the right of all – mass organisations, workers’ organisations, women’s organisations, residential organisations, trade organisations, etc. to select their candidates. And these organisations will be given equal opportunity to carry out propaganda for their candidate and all candidates will equally receive state funding for this. We will establish a system where the right to propose legislation will be with the samitis selected by the people. We should have the right to recall those representatives who work against our interests; we have to establish mechanisms for this as well.
MEL: You have many youth in your constituency who have aspirations for a better life that remains unfulfilled in this present system due to lack of necessary education and facilities. How do you plan to address this issue?
Dharmender Kumar: We see the youth as our future. However the present system does not provide the youth with either education or any means of vocational training because the aim of the system is to maintain unemployment as well deprive the youth of good education and skills so that they remain a source of cheap labour.
We will end privatization in education. We will estbalish a system where everybody will have access to free and compulsory education. Everybody in society must be educated or provided vocational training according to each one’s ability. Towards this, we will focus on setting up the maximum number of government schools and we will open vocational training centres for all those youth who want to get trained in the skill of their interest. We will establish good primary schools because we believe that the fundamentals of education should be strong. In order to provide the youth with skills, we will establish government sports centres, ensuring good instructors; we will also establish good craft centres ensuring the appointment of good instructors, where youth can get trained without having to pay exhorbitant fees for their training.
MEL: Why have you raised the issue of a new Constitution? Please elaborate.
Dharmender Kumar: We believe that the present Constitution is the biggest symbol of our slavery. We cannot say that this is the Constitution of the people because they played no part in writing it. It was made by the representatives of the captialists and landlords who were licking the boots of the English. This Constitution does not affirm people’s rights. It is a means to secure the continuation of the present system, and instead of securing the rights of people, it takes them away. For instance, the police law is such that the police are not here to protect the people but to protect the state. At that time, the capitalist and landlords needed protection from the people. Therefore the police used to suppress the people, and they continue to do the same today. Workers had to fight for their right then, and have to do the so today too. The Constitution does not guarantee their rights. A Constitution will be good when the maximum number of people participate in making it. Whereas in 1947, only 1100 of the representatives of the capitalist and landlords from among 35 crore people participated in writing the Constitution under the leadership of the British. Therefore, we need to create a Constitution written by the majority of the working people.
MEL: Thank you and wishing you well in the elections.