Statement of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 8th January, 2017
On 2nd January, the Supreme Court of India passed a ruling that “No politician can seek vote in the name of caste, creed, or religion," and that “such actions would be against the secular ethos of the Constitution and amount to corrupt poll practices.”
The Constitutional Bench passed this order on the basis of Section 123(3) of the Representation of People's Act, which states that the promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, caste, community by a candidate is legally banned.
Historical experience proves that it is not merely some individual politicians and electoral candidates who are responsible for spreading communal and caste hatred. The principal political parties in Parliament and the entire State are responsible.
Political parties in charge of executive power have repeatedly used the State machinery for spreading hatred and unleashing violence against people of a particular religion or caste. They have done so for their own narrow party interest and in the interest of the big capitalist class in power, as part of the strategy of divide and rule, inherited from colonial times.
Whether we talk of the massacre of Sikhs in November 1984, the destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992 and the accompanying violence against Hindus and Muslims, or the Gujarat genocide of 2002, it is by now well known that the culprits were not some individuals. The communal violence was masterminded by parties in power. The armed security forces of the State did not protect the lives of the victims. They permitted or even participated in the violence. In many cases, they disarmed the victims prior to the arrival of the killer gangs.
It is not only during election campaigns that political parties of the capitalist class polarise people along religious and caste lines. They do so all the time. Hence it is absurd to expect that placing restrictions on how a candidate can appeal for votes is going to have any impact on the divisive politics practised by rival bourgeois parties.
If the Supreme Court is serious about wanting to prevent the spread of hatred and tension between different religious communities, why does it not do anything about punishing the parties which have organised the worst communal crimes? Why does it not convict and punish officials of the State who were in command and ought to have protected the lives and properties of all?
The reason why the Supreme Court does not take any action against the principal parties which are responsible for inciting communal and caste hatred, or against State officials and elected heads for failing to protect people’s lives, is because it is part of the existing State. And the existing State is an organ of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
It is the big capitalists headed by the monopoly houses who are in control of the Indian State and all its arms, including the judiciary. That is the reason why those guilty of organising communal violence never get punished. That is also the reason that the Supreme Court keeps pronouncing so-called “secular” verdicts which have no impact whatsoever on the continuing spread of communal politics.
Communist Ghadar Party of India is of the opinion that all those who are fighting against exploitation, oppression, discrimination or injustice of any kind must stop believing in the falsehood that the existing State and its Constitution uphold some “secular ethos”.
The fundamental law of the land, a Constitution, is either an instrument to consolidate the socio-economic system as it exists at a particular time, or an instrument to lay down the basic line for the creation of a new system. The Constitution adopted in 1950 represented a continuation and consolidation of what existed. In the words of the Constitutional expert Subhash Khashyap, “The Constitution rejected British rule, but not the institutions that had developed during the period of British rule. Thus, the Constitution did not represent a complete break with the colonial past”.
The Constitution of 1950 failed to break with the communal outlook that Indian society is made up of a “Hindu majority”, a “Muslim minority” and other religious minorities. By embracing the concept of a religious majority, the Constitution laid the basis for perpetuating the communal State inherited from the British.
There is not even any mention in the Constitution of India of any national identity such as that of the Punjabis, Gujaratis, Rajasthanis, Marathis, Kashmiris, Tamils, Telugus, Kannadigas, Malayalees, Bengalis, Biharis, Odiyas, Assamese, Nagas, Meiteis, Mizos, Avadhis, Bundelkhandis and innumerable other peoples who have lived in this Indian subcontinent for many centuries. India is looked at purely in communal terms, as consisting of different religious and caste communities.
The philosophy of Secularism that guides the thinking underlying this Constitution is nothing other than the reactionary legacy of British colonialism, based on the concepts of “tolerance” and “fair play”. The Constitution perpetuates discrimination based on caste, gender and religious identity in the name of tolerating people’s customs. It permits the State to distribute privileges, incite religious disputes and then pretend to be the impartial umpire. It legitimizes a highly communal and sectarian political party system and electoral process.
Until and unless the State protects the lives and fundamental rights of all members of society, it is not just to demand that people must not organise on the basis of religion or caste. Those who are attacked on the basis of their religious or caste identity will naturally organise to defend themselves. Victims of communal persecution or caste oppression cannot be blamed for forming political parties or organisations based on caste or religious identity.
The Supreme Court verdict is useless as far as combating divisive politics is concerned. It serves to perpetuate the harmful illusion that the existing State and Constitution defend a “secular ethos” while it is only some corrupt politicians who are to blame for communalism. It serves to hide the communal foundation of the Indian State.