The ruling class and all its trained politicians and theoreticians keep repeating the lie that there is no alternative to the existing political system. They repeat the mantra of the US and other capitalist-imperialist states that there is nothing better than the political process of multi-party representative democracy. However, the vast majority of people are not satisfied with this system and political process.
The majority of people in our country are angry with a political system which pays no heed to their concerns. The voice of the people finds no place in the Parliament. Their legitimate demands are not fulfilled. The demands of a wealthy minority, headed by the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and other capitalist monopoly houses, keep getting fulfilled by every elected government.
Crores of workers have been repeatedly coming out on the streets in our country, demanding minimum wages and other basic rights. Lakhs of peasants in every region of the country are demanding guaranteed remunerative prices for their produce. Masses of people are demanding a halt to the privatisation of railways, education, health and other public services. Such demands are never fulfilled.
As we approach the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, we can see how the capitalist monopoly houses are setting the agenda of public debate. The corporate media is propagating war hysteria and calling for revenge against Pakistan. The aim of this propaganda is to divert the attention of workers, peasants and all other oppressed women and men from the growing unemployment, intensified exploitation, fall in farm incomes and other problems that plague them. The aim is to keep people preoccupied with debating whether the BJP or the Congress can give a fitting response to Pakistan. The aim is to enrich Indian and foreign monopoly capitalists who profit from militarisation and war.
The preamble of the Indian Constitution gives the impression that people are the supreme decision-makers. However, the reality is that this Constitution empowers the Cabinet to decide on behalf of the entire people. Prime Minister Modi did not need to consult the Parliament before announcing the Note Ban of 2016. Such unilateral actions have the backing of the most powerful economic interests. They have legal legitimacy under the existing Constitution.
The Constitution recognises that every adult citizen has an equal right to vote. However, the laws and rules governing the electoral process are designed to ensure that only parties which have the backing of the capitalist class can win elections. Thousands of crores of rupees are spent by the monopoly houses to ensure that one or the other of their trusted parties gets to form the government.
The owners of capital are divided into numerous factions and political parties. In addition to the BJP and Congress Party, which are the principal parties backed by the capitalist monopoly houses, there are other parties which represent regional propertied interests. Elections are used by such parties to keep people divided and diverted from the real source of their problems. Selection of candidates and poll alliances between such parties are all made on the basis of religion and caste.
Different sections of the propertied minority compete to wield the executive power. They dominate the entire political process, including candidate selection, electoral campaigning, government formation, enactment of laws and adoption of policies. The vast majority of people are treated like beggars, with rival parties offering all kinds of sops to different groups of people.
Numerous parties and mass organisations of workers, peasants and other intermediate strata put forward their candidates in every round of elections. Such candidates face an uphill battle. The electoral arena is skewed in favour of the candidates of parties backed by the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses. Such parties enjoy various privileges, including state allotted space for their party office and permanent election symbols. Spokespersons of such parties get maximum time on TV channels. All other parties and all non-party candidates are completely marginalized.
The candidate who wins the maximum votes in a constituency becomes a “people’s representative”, even if he or she has received the support of only one-fourth or sometimes even less than one-fifth of the eligible voters.
Once the “people’s representatives” are elected, they split into two camps. One is the ruling camp, headed by the Cabinet. The other is the opposition camp, headed by the party with the maximum seats within that camp. The ruling camp proposes laws and adopts policies in the service of the capitalist class headed by the monopoly houses. Parties in the opposition camp scream loudly against government actions, waiting for their chance to be part of the ruling camp.
People have no control over the actions of their elected representatives. Members of parliament follow the directions of the parties to which they belong. They are not accountable to those who elected them. People have no right to recall those they elected, no matter how anti-people and criminal their conduct may be.
Every elected government claims that it has the “people’s mandate”. However, it implements the anti-people program of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. Laws are passed and policies adopted to enrich Indian monopoly houses and foreign capitalists, at the expense of the livelihood and rights of workers and peasants.
The toiling majority of people produce more and more goods and services year after year, but the fruits of their toil enrich only a minority of wealthy capitalists. The big capitalists grow richer all the time while workers and peasants remain poor and many sink deeper and deeper into poverty and debt.
What do all these facts and phenomena show? They show that the capitalist class, headed by the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and other monopoly houses, wields supreme power in the existing political system. The State is an organ of their dictatorship. It is an instrument to divide and rule over the toiling majority of people.
The political process, in which parties backed by big money power take turns to manage the government, is the mechanism through which the capitalist class imposes its will on society.
There is no possibility for the working class and broad masses of people to defend their rights and advance their interests within this outmoded and alien political system. The only solution is to replace it with a system that is consistent with the longstanding demand of the Indian people that they must be the master of India. The political process of such an alternative system must enable the people to govern themselves and exercise control over their lives.
Workers, peasants and other toilers who produce the wealth of India must wield supreme power. Only then can they make sure that prosperity and protection are guaranteed for all.
To ensure that supreme power remains in their hands, the toiling majority of people must establish a Constitution which vests sovereignty in the people; and not in the President, Cabinet or Parliament.
In that new system, elected representatives will not divide themselves into ruling and opposition camps. The elected legislative body as a whole will be held collectively responsible and accountable to the people. The executive power will be accountable to the legislative body, which will be accountable to the people.
The political process of the new system will be designed to make it possible for the toiling majority of people to take part actively in the decision-making process. Only through such participation can the working people ensure that the economy fulfils their needs, and the fruits of their toil are not pocketed by an exploiting minority.
The role of a political party will be to raise people’s political consciousness and provide them with the vision and a leading organised force with which they can rule themselves. Laws governing political activity will ban any party that spreads hatred or enmity among people on communal or caste basis. There will be no space for any party that seeks to exclude the masses of people from decision-making power.
The entire electoral process will be financed by the State. All other sources of funding will be prohibited. People will enjoy the right to select and approve the list of candidates before electing one of them. They will have the right to initiate legislation, to approve major public decisions through referendum, and the right to recall their elected representative at any time. All residual powers, including the right to reformulate the constitution, will vest with the people.
Such an alternative system and political process is needed for the working class to wield supreme power in alliance with the peasants and all other toiling and oppressed people.
Spokespersons of the capitalist class also talk about electoral reform and governance reform. However, their aim is to further consolidate the concentration of power in the hands of the wealthiest capitalists. Their aim is to create more obstacles for people’s candidates to challenge the domination by “recognised” parties.
Some parties call for replacing the present “first-past the post” method of allocating parliamentary seats by the method of proportional representation. Proportional representation will ensure that seat shares of different parties in the Lok Sabha will be equal to their all-India vote shares. However, such a reform will not change the class content of political power. The political process will continue to be dominated by a handful of parties of the capitalist class. The vast majority of people will continue to play a marginal role.
Communists need to unite and lead the struggle for establishing the new political system in which people are sovereign. We need to use all facts and phenomena to keep exposing the fact that the existing system is the dictatorship of the capitalist class. We need to mobilise all sections of discontented people to fight for the alternative system of workers’ and peasants’ rule.
We must use the electoral arena to campaign for the alternative political system in which people are empowered, and the alternative economic orientation of fulfilling people’s needs instead of fulfilling capitalist greed.
We must agitate for such changes in the political process that will weaken the domination of parties backed by big money power, and expand the space for the interests of working people to be represented.
We communists must politicise the working class and people on a constant basis. We must lead the work of building committees among the people in the course of fighting for their rights, rising above all petty party rivalries. People become politically conscious only when they fight together for their common interests. Organisations of collective struggle are the building blocks for people to take power in their hands.
We need to build the political unity of all progressive forces, and all victims of the existing system, around the program for the Navnirman of India. We, the people, must lay claim to the right to be the master of India. We must organise to establish a system in which the working class exercises power in alliance with peasants and other working people, ensuring that the economy provides for all.