Maharashtra Assembly Elections 2014

Organise to defeat the anti-worker, anti-peasant, anti-social and anti-national course of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation!

Let us organise to become the rulers and transform society!

Statement on Maharashtra Assembly Elections - Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 27th September, 2014

Assembly elections for the states of Maharashtra and Haryana will be held on 15th October, 2014. The results will be declared on 19th October. Both these elections will be single phase elections.

Maharashtra Assembly has 288 seats. Coalition governments have run this state for the past two decades. The Shiv Sena-BJP coalition governed between 1995 and 1999. For the past 15 years, the Congress-NCP coalition has been in power.

Maharashtra is the third largest state of India in terms of area, and the second largest in terms of population. It is the most industrialised and contributes the largest share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India.

While it is considered a “high income state”, there is an acute and growing disparity between a super-rich minority and the vast masses of toiling people in Maharashtra. According to official statistics, 4.5 crore people, or 38% of the population, are extremely poor. The actual number of people living in desperate conditions is much higher. Stark evidence of this is the high and continuing incidence of suicides among peasants in many regions. According to official records, there are on average 9 suicides every day, higher than in any other state!

Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, is the headquarters of the banking and financial sector of the country. It is in effect the headquarters of India Incorporated – that is, of the big monopoly bourgeoisie. It is from this city that the real power operates behind the curtain, as was revealed by the Radiia tapes.

Besides the headquarters of many financial institutions, this city houses the Mumbai Stock Exchange and the Multi-Commodity Exchange of India (MCX), which is the third largest in the world in terms of the number of futures contracts traded. Dalal Street in Mumbai is the entry point for global finance capital to interlock with Indian finance capital so as to gamble with the fate of our economy, to plunder the wealth created by the workers and peasants and rob our hard-earned savings.

As a result of over two decades of implementing the program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation, the domination of the economy by Indian and foreign financial institutions has greatly increased. Billions of dollars are poured in and billions are taken out of the country every day. It is a process that generates unimaginable amounts of profits for the monopoly capitalists, by draining out the wealth created by the toil of workers and peasants.

The battle for control over Maharashtra State Assembly involves very high stakes for the Indian and international bourgeoisie, who will go to any extent to ensure that their writ runs unhindered in this strategic state. It is no wonder that the coming elections are predicted to be the most expensive state election in the history of our country.

These elections are being organised just 5 months after the victory of BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. For the first time in 30 years, the big bourgeoisie has been successful in establishing a government in New Delhi headed by a single party with absolute majority. The big bourgeoisie is pushing for a similar result in Maharashtra and Haryana.

The bourgeois class, by its very nature, is divided into different factions and sectional interests. The major factions of propertied interests in Maharashtra are represented by the Congress Party, BJP, NCP and Shiv Sena. The dogfight between these parties is over the division of the loot, while they are united in their commitment to advance the liberalisation and privatisation program.

The recent breaking up of the BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP alliances shows that the big bourgeoisie wants its main trusted parties to make a concerted effort to win an absolute majority on their own, and to resort to coalition rule only if an absolute majority fails to be achieved. A single party majority government is the preferred result for the big bourgeoisie to push full steam ahead with its program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation.

Apart from the four main parties that have ruled in Maharashtra, there are numerous other parties that are participating in these elections, representing different class and sectional interests. There are parties of regional propertied interests such as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and various factions of the Republican Party of India. There are also parties based in other regions which want to extend their reach in Maharashtra, such as Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.

There are numerous parties of workers and peasants who will be contesting the coming elections in various constituencies, including Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Peasants’ and Workers’ Party.

Many activists of various people’s organisations, who have a track record of fighting for the rights of the toiling and oppressed people, will be contesting as “independent” candidates.

Communist Ghadar Party of India is participating in the electoral campaign by presenting and agitating for the revolutionary political platform around which all the parties and organisations of workers and peasants can and must unite. We are participating with the aim of exposing the real content of the imperialist economic course being pursued and presenting the alternative program of reorienting the economy to ensure prosperity and protection for all. We are using the electoral arena to expose the system and political process of bourgeois democracy and present the alternative – the system and political process of proletarian democracy, based on the principle that sovereignty must vest in the people and not in Parliament or the Cabinet or the President of India.

We are working to unite all the progressive forces and defeat the divisive politics of the bourgeoisie. We are committed to build a worker-peasant alliance around the program to reconstitute India as a modern democracy in which people exercise decision-making power and use it to reorient the economy to provide for all.

Thirty years of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation

The globalisation of Indian capital began with the modernisation drive unleashed by the Rajiv Gandhi government almost 30 years ago, which was the precursor to the launching of the liberalisation and privatisation program in 1991. After 30 years of pursuing this course, India has gained a place among countries with the largest number of Dollar billionaires. The Indian bourgeoisie has become a major exporter of capital. At the other pole, India is ranked extremely low in all social indices. We have the maximum number of malnourished people in the world, the largest number of illiterates, of unemployed, of maternal deaths and incidence of all kinds of preventable diseases. Maharashtra, a so-called high income state, has one of the highest numbers of child deaths due to malnourishment!

The much touted economic reform program of the bourgeoisie is a program to raise the intensity of exploitation of workers, robbery of peasants and plunder of natural resources to the highest possible degree. It is a process of wrecking the entire social and natural environment. This is visible in the starkest way in Maharashtra, and especially in the city of Mumbai.

The mills and factories in this once most industrialised city of our country have been wrecked and dismantled. The conditions of work and life for the working population has become more and more onerous, while enormous wealth is getting more and more concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

The majority of Mumbai’s workers live in extremely overcrowded chawls and slums, with no drinking water or sanitation, and commute in overcrowded trains and buses every day. At the other pole, the super-rich monopoly capitalists flaunt their enormous private wealth. They build skyscraper homes with helipads on the roof, so that they can fly in and out of the city without having to drive through the congested roads.

The program of globalisation, through liberalisation and privatisation, has meant unbridled loot of the state treasury and ever-increasing burden of public debt on the heads of the toiling masses of people. The outstanding debt of the Government of Maharashtra has increased from Rs. 12,878 crore in March 1991 to Rs. 2,31,926 crore in March 2012. This amounts to a debt of over Rs 20,000 hanging over the head of every man, woman and child! Maharashtra is the second most indebted state in the country, only after Uttar Pradesh.

Nearly 18 per cent of the annual state revenue, around Rs. 20,000 crore, is spent on paying the interest on this debt. Most of the state revenue comes from indirect taxes like sales tax and excise duties, which even the poorest have to pay when they buy consumer goods in the market. More and more is being extracted from the toiling masses to service the state government debt, owed largely to the big banks and other financial institutions.

Official data reveal massive loot of the state treasury through corruption in irrigation projects. The Government of Maharashtra spent Rs 70,000 crores on irrigation projects between 2001 and 2011. The extent of irrigated land, however, increased by only 0.1% in that period. About 125 of the 355 tehsils in the state are considered permanently drought-prone. The plight of the majority of peasants remains terrible.

The bourgeoisie has carried out a massive land grab of both urban and rural land. Land being tilled by peasants and adivasis has been forcibly acquired and handed over to private parties. In these rich agricultural lands, industrial parks, pleasure resorts and tourist complexes have been built.

Land use laws in Mumbai have been changed to enable the owners of mills and factories to develop these lands as real estate. These lands had been originally given to these capitalists at extremely low rates for the express purpose of setting up factories and mills. The bourgeoisie has made huge profits by closing down these factories and mills, and setting up malls, shopping complexes, as well as high rise apartments for the wealthy in their place.

Promoters of Special Economic Zones have been permitted to construct residential complexes on 40% of the land allotted. Land for these SEZ’s have been forcibly seized from peasants at very cheap rates, for the benefit of the Ambanis, Tatas and other monopoly corporate houses. Most of this land is in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur, where property rates are extremely high.

The building of expressways through Public Private Partnership has been a major arena for the loot of the public exchequer. The state has absorbed the losses, while the builders of these expressways are guaranteed maximum profits through toll taxes.

Investments in education, health care, sanitation, public transport, the building of roads, have been slashed. All public services are being neglected and are decaying. The conditions of government hospitals, government schools, roads, state and city public road transport, municipal services, has gone from bad to worse.

Essential public services are being privatised. Every arena where the big capitalists see possibilities of reaping maximum profits is being opened up, and tax incentives are offered to lure private investors.

The economic program of maximising exploitation and plunder has been accompanied by communal and sectarian violence, and the escalation of state terrorism. A fascistic climate has been created in the name of fighting terrorism, fundamentalism, extremism and secessionism.

Maharashtra has witnessed increasing incidents of terrorist attacks in trains, buses, market places and religious institutions. The fact that the culprits are never brought to justice indicates that the ruling circles are secretly sponsoring many terrorist groups. The growing incidence of such individual acts of terrorism is used to justify stepping up state terrorism. Tens of thousands of innocent youth have been tortured, killed in fake encounters, or incarcerated in jails.

The experience of the past 30 years shows that globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation, accompanied by state terrorism, communal and sectarian violence, is an anti-worker, anti-peasant, anti-national and anti-social course. It is against the interests of those who toil, and against the general interests of society.

Life experience of the past 30 years has exposed the fallacy of various theories and notions about the economy and its present course. This includes the “trickle down” theory that if the rich grow richer as fast as possible, their wealth will flow down to the rest of society. It includes the notion that capitalism and the imperialist globalisation program can be given a “human face”, and the idea of a “Common Minimum Program” that can serve both the capitalists and the working class.

Mass opposition to the economic reform program

Every step of the way, the working class and toiling masses have been waging powerful battles against the program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation.

The working class and people of Maharashtra have waged many struggles against the growing corruption and loot of public funds. People are demanding that the state government should stop giving hand-outs to the capitalists. It should ensure good quality care in government hospitals. Privatisation and commercialization of higher education has been vigorously opposed, as also the government’s moves to close down Marathi medium schools. Privatisation of highways has been opposed by tens of thousands of people.

There is growing resistance to the cutbacks in the Targeted Public Distribution System. People are fighting for a Modern Universal Public Distribution System which will ensure that all the essential needs of the people are available in adequate quantity, good quality and at affordable prices for all.

Peasants in all regions of Maharashtra have been struggling against the slashing of subsidies on fertilisers and pesticides. Peasants of Raigad have been agitating against the acquisition of their lands by the big capitalist corporations, with the state government playing an enabling role.

Mill workers of Mumbai have been waging a long struggle against the handing over of the lands of closed mills to private builders at the cost of providing for workers’ housing.

Financial sector workers, road transport workers, municipal workers, airlines and railway workers, resident doctors of government hospitals, university and college teachers are among those who have been waging a protracted struggle against the capitalist offensive.

Major strike struggles have taken place in the auto manufacturing sector in the Pune-Nashik belt, involving thousands of workers. The state government has used its armed forces as well as the legal machinery to attack these workers. It has used the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act 2011 (MESMA) to threaten teachers, transport sector workers, doctors, nurses, electricity workers, municipal employees, state government employees, dock workers, etc. with arrest and termination of services.

The basic rights of lakhs of workers have been denied under the pretext that their work is an “essential service”. There has been powerful opposition to this fascist act from all sections of workers. Communists belonging to various parties have played a leading role in developing the united struggle of workers against MESMA. Communist Ghadar Party has been in the forefront of the struggle to build workers’ unity in defence of their livelihood and rights, cutting across all barriers of caste, community or party affiliation.

The hardworking people of Maharashtra have refused to fight among themselves on a communal basis. Organisations of workers, peasants and other progressive forces have united to demand that those guilty of organising communal violence and state terror be tried and punished. They have demanded that those in command must be held responsible for failing to defend the unity of the people and lives of the citizens. Communist Ghadar Party has participated actively in this struggle, in defence of the right to conscience and against state persecution of any section of the people. We have contributed to strengthen unity around the slogan: An attack on one is an attack on all!

From the time state terrorism began to be systematically organised in Punjab, through the period of Operation Blue Star and the November 1984 genocide of Sikhs, the violence against Muslims and Hindus following the destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992, and the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, Communist Ghadar Party has worked to build the unity of all the oppressed, against the State of the Indian Union. We have consistently propagated the truth that it is not the people but the State that is communal. We have mobilised working people in many areas to build committees where they live, relying on their own collective strength and not on the state and its institutions.

Electoral Process and the Political Alternative

In addition to the use of the bullet on a continuous basis, the ruling bourgeois class periodically uses the ballot to divide and divert the resistance of the toiling majority of people to the capitalist-imperialist program. Every round of elections is used to divide the people on sectarian lines.

Repeated rounds of elections in Maharashtra have resulted in one party or coalition of the bourgeoisie replacing another, while the course of the economy and political system has remained unchanged. This shows that the existing political system and electoral process are instruments of bourgeois dictatorship. It is the bourgeois class, headed by the monopoly houses and linked with international capital, which sets the agenda.

The ruling bourgeoisie uses the electoral process to select one or another political party to market and implement the pre-determined agenda. Elections are used to sort out the internal conflicts in the bourgeois class and to gain legitimacy for its dictatorship, by claiming that the party in power has the “people’s mandate”.

The parties that form governments after winning a majority of seats in elections are nothing other than managers for the bourgeoisie. They implement the program of the bourgeoisie, as seen by the performance of the BJP-Sena and Congress-NCP coalitions in Maharashtra. When one party or coalition gets discredited in the eyes of the toiling masses, the bourgeoisie uses elections to change the management team, so as to pursue the same agenda more effectively. Only those parties and coalitions are allowed to come to power who have proved through word and deed that they are committed to implement the program of the big bourgeoisie.

There is wide dissatisfaction amongst the toiling and oppressed majority of people with their powerless condition in this system which reduces them to vote banks. Communist Ghadar Party has worked to strengthen the movement to establish a superior system of democracy in which the people exercise decision-making power.

For the working class and broad masses of people to end their powerless condition and become the decision makers, it is necessary to establish a new system and process of democracy based on the principle of vesting sovereignty in the people. Communist Ghadar Party has been consistently agitating for immediate political reforms in this direction, and developing this platform in close collaboration with all other progressive forces.

The right to elect and be elected must be guaranteed to every voter. The right to select candidates must be taken out of the hands of political parties and vested in the hands of the electorate. An elected Constituency Committee must be established in each constituency, mandated with powers to enable the people to exercise their political rights, including their right to select candidates before any election is held. No private interest, including political parties, must be allowed to spend on the election campaign of any candidate. The state must fund the electoral process, giving all the selected candidates equal opportunity to present their views before the electorate.

Once people cast their votes, they must not hand over all powers to those who get elected. People must retain the right to initiate legislation, to approve major public decisions through referendums, and the right to recall at any time the one they elected. The executive, the council of ministers, must be accountable to the legislature, and the legislature must be accountable to the electorate.

In Mumbai and other cities and rural districts of the country, the movement for people’s empowerment has been developing into a powerful force for replacing the present bourgeois democracy with a modern proletarian democracy in which people are truly sovereign.

Communist Ghadar Party has been in the forefront of the struggle to build people’s empowerment committees in factories and other work places, in residential quarters, college campuses and in villages. During different rounds of elections, such committees have developed the practice of people’s selection of candidates in open mass meetings.

Our Party considers elections as an important arena of struggle, even though it is not the main arena of struggle. We cannot establish worker-peasant rule through elections within the existing system. We cannot change the orientation of the economy through these elections.

What we communists can and must do is to use the electoral arena to expose bourgeoisie democracy and the capitalist economic orientation, and build unity amongst the workers, peasants, women, youth and all the exploited and oppressed around the alternative program. In this, we can confidently say that there has been significant success.

A new quality, in small quantity, has been created. The united effort of all communists and all progressive forces are needed to turn this success into victory. We must reject all those political theories and tactics that serve to maintain harmful illusions among the people and preserve the bourgeois dictatorship. This includes the theory that workers’ parties must support the “lesser evil” among bourgeois parties. It includes the idea that worker-peasant rule can be established through the political process of the existing parliamentary democracy. It includes the false notion that the foundations of the Indian Republic and its Constitution are secular and need to be defended.

Call to all progressive forces

The source of all the problems facing our people is the rule of the bourgeoisie. The Indian state is an instrument to defend this rule. It is communal right from its foundations.

Our aim is to overthrow the capitalist system and replace it with socialism. We need to establish the rule of workers and peasants in place of the rule of the capitalists, take over the principal means of production and exchange from private hands and place it under social control. Then and only then can we ensure that the economy is oriented to fulfil the growing needs of the people, and provide for the future generations.

Our Party appeals to all communists to give up all illusions about the economic system, and about the existing State and political process. The present situation is calling on us to provide the working class and people with the vision and program to lift Indian society out of crisis and guarantee prosperity and protection for all. We appeal to all communists to work single-mindedly at building the united front of the working class and of the toiling masses around the alternative to the capitalist orientation of the economy and to bourgeois democracy.

In the General Elections held in April-May this year, the big bourgeoisie manipulated the great dissatisfaction of the workers, peasants, women and youth with their deteriorating conditions, to bring to power a BJP-led government promising “Acche Din”. Good times are being delivered to the big capitalists of India and to the foreign capitalist investors, by further attacks on the rights and livelihood of the workers and peasants.

The new government headed by Narendra Modi has unveiled reforms to amend labour laws such as Factories Act, Industrial Disputes Act, trade Unions Act, Contract Labour Act and the Apprentices Act. The proposed changes in these laws are aimed at making it easier for capitalists to freely hire and fire workers, at as low wages as they can get away with, denying them any social security, and making it extremely difficult for workers to organise themselves into trade unions.

The agenda of legal reforms includes steps to enable the capitalists to acquire the lands of peasants and adivasis more easily than before. Environmental regulations are being liberalised for the benefit of the Indian and foreign capitalists, to enable more intensive and extensive loot of our natural resources.

Prime Minister Modi has given the call “Make in India”. Capitalists are being invited from all over the world to share in the exploitation and plunder of our land and labour, making whatever is most profitable, from submarines and bombs to high-speed trains. Whether it is insurance or weapons production, doors have been opened wide to foreign capital. The government has declared its intention to make India the favourite destination for capitalists to make maximum profits by attacking the rights of workers and peasants.

“Make in India” is the newest slogan of the bourgeoisie to push ahead with the program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation. It is the slogan under which the New Industrial Policy of the Maharashtra government, unveiled in January 2013, is going to be implemented, with disastrous consequences for the toiling majority of people.

There are only two kinds of political fronts that are possible in our class divided society. One is the political front of the bourgeoisie, committed to implement the program of the bourgeoisie. The Congress, BJP, NCP, Shiv Sena are all part of this bourgeois front.

In stark opposition, there is the worker-peasant front which we communists are building, committed to the alternative program to establish worker-peasant rule and open the path to socialism.

The workers of Mumbai have long history of heroic struggle against capitalist exploitation and against colonial and imperialist enslavement and plunder. So do the brave peasants and adivasis and forest dwellers in all regions of Maharashtra. Times are calling for worker-peasant unity to defeat the diabolical plans of the bourgeoisie.

Communist Ghadar Party calls upon all communists, all activists of the working class, peasantry, the adivasis. women and youth, to pour all their energies towards building the worker-peasant front around its own independent program.

Let us build the fighting organisations of people in urban and rural areas, in forests and hills, in every factories, workplaces, colleges, schools and residential areas around the alternative program to provide for the people and guarantee their rights! Discuss this program, elaborate on it, and fight for its implementation!

Let us organise to become the rulers and transform society!

Hum hai iske maalik, Hum hai Hindostan -- Mazdoor, Kisan, Aurat aur Jawan!

Inquilab Zindabad!

Program to provide for the people and guarantee their rights

  • Suspend interest payments on Government debt to the big financial institutions. Immediately withdraw all tax concessions and incentives to capitalist corporations and capitalists; reallocate the money to provide the basic needs of water, sanitation, housing and healthcare for all.
  • Create a modern Public Distribution System which ensures that all essential items of consumption (including wheat, rice, dal, vegetables, milk, meat, oil and fuel, medicines, school books) are available in adequate quantity, good quality and at affordable prices for all.
  • Wholesale internal trade, foreign trade, as well as large scale retail trade must be taken over and placed under public control and futures trading must be banned.
  • Provide housing, sanitation, safe drinking water and reliable electricity to every household in the cities and the countryside.
  • Uniform good quality free school education to every child up to higher secondary level. Privatisation of higher, technical and medical education to be reversed. State must provide scholarships to enable everyone to have equal opportunity to pursue higher education.
  • Teachers must be given the remuneration, recognition and respect due to those who have the responsibility of preparing the future citizens of society.
  • Suitable and secure employment for all
  • Universal registration of all wage and salaried employment
  • Guaranteed minimum wages, pension, and all other rights must be recognised as rights that belong to all wage-workers, without exception
  • Women must be paid equal wages for the same work done by men. The state must ensure full maternity benefits and provision of child care facilities at the most suitable locations.
  • Repeal of MESMA and other black laws.
  • Creation of a reliable and efficient public procurement system for all agricultural produce which ensures stable and remunerative prices and eliminates middlemen. All inputs to agriculture — seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, diesel, etc — must be provided at affordable prices to the farmers. State guaranteed insurance for crop failure
  • No acquisition of any agricultural land, pending the enactment of a new Land Law, that must guarantee secure possession of arable land in the hands of those who are tilling it.
  • Violence against women in any form and by any person, including army and police officials, and those holding the highest offices, should not be tolerated, and must be severely punished.
  • No election without people’s selection of candidates!
  • State must fund the electoral process, not any political party, or private organistion or individual!
  • People must have the right to initiate legislation, to approve major public decisions through referendums, and the right to recall at any time the one they elected.
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Oct 1-15 2014    Voice of the Party    Popular Movements     Political Process    

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