Election results and the tasks facing the working class and people

On 16 June, the Delhi Regional Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India organised a meeting on the theme “Election Results and the tasks facing the working class and people”.

Comrade Prakash Rao made an initiating presentation. This was followed by a vigorous discussion with many valuable interventions made by participants.

The presentation began by pointing out that the BJP, which had a majority in parliament since 2014, has been reduced to a minority. A coalition government of the NDA with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister has assumed office. The INDIA alliance headed by the Congress Party has emerged as a strong parliamentary opposition. Parties which did not join either of these two coalitions have been marginalized.

To analyse the results, it is important to understand the system of parliamentary democracy in our country and its genesis.

Our rulers proclaim day in and day out that India is the “mother of democracy” in the world. The truth is that the existing system of rule originates from the system of rule developed in Britain. It has its origin in the 1935 Government of India Act passed by the British Parliament. That Act established a system of representative government in which Indians could elect their representatives to the colonial assemblies. The right to vote was granted to less than one third of the population, on the basis of property and educational qualifications. The India Independence Act adopted by the British parliament transferred power in August 1947 from the British colonial rulers to a Constituent Assembly elected from amongst members of these colonial assemblies. In January 1950, this Constituent assembly adopted the Constitution of India. It extended the franchise to all adults.

The system of parliamentary democracy had emerged in Britain in the course of the struggle for political power between the rising bourgeoisie on the one hand and the feudal forces on the other hand.

About 400 years ago, King James 1 of England propagated the theory of the Divine Right of Kings. According to this theory, kings drew their power from God. Supreme power vested in the king. This theory was propagated to justify the continued rule of the feudal forces in the face of the struggle of the bourgeoisie for political power.

Through armed rebellion against the king, the bourgeoisie established its rule. It established and developed the parliamentary system of rule, so as to deprive the king of supreme power. Supreme Power was vested in the executive, in the form of King in Parliament.  That is, the bourgeoisie contested the supreme power in hands of the feudal class, and took supreme power in its own hands. The bourgeoisie mobilized the masses of working people to fight under its banner against the feudal forces. But it ensured, through the system of rule that it established, that the masses of people remained deprived of sovereignty.

When the British bourgeoisie first established its system of parliamentary democracy, the right to vote was extremely restricted. Only propertied men enjoyed this right. Till 1832, less than 5% of the British population had the right to vote.

As a result of the struggle of working people, by 1884 the right to vote had been extended to about 25% of the population. Majority of workers and all women were still deprived of this right. Women of Britain waged a powerful struggle for voting rights, called the suffragette movement. It was only after the end of the First World War in 1918 that all men, and women over the age of 30 won the right to vote. It was not until 1930 that women of Britain won the right to vote at the same age as men.

The establishment of workers’ and peasants’ rule in Russia, following the victory of the October Revolution in 1917, had a profound impact on the struggles of working people throughout the world. The workers, peasants and women of Russia enjoyed the right to elect and be elected to the Soviets. Their active participation in the political process spurred the struggle  for universal adult suffrage in all the capitalist countries. The ruling bourgeoisie in capitalist countries were forced over the next few decades to extend the right to vote to all adult members of society.

However, the bourgeoisie has ensured that supreme power remains in its hands. The system of representative democracy ensures this. In this system, the role of people is restricted to casting their vote once in five years. The government formed after elections has decision-making power, as long as it has the majority in parliament. Parliament is not accountable to the people.

The rule of the bourgeoisie remains undisturbed, irrespective of whichever party forms the govt after the elections.

The bourgeoisie ensures through its control of the state apparatus, and through various laws, that a communist party which is committed to overthrow the bourgeois rule and establish the rule of the working class and people, will never be given charge of the executive. It is ready to unleash its armed forces to crush the working class and people if they dare to rise in revolt.

By its very class character, the bourgeoisie is divided into rival factions. Different sections of the bourgeoisie are represented by different parties in parliament. Over centuries, the party system of rule has been established and developed. This system has been proven to work best with two main parties representing the bourgeoisie. Through elections, the party which wins a majority in parliament gets to form the government, while the other party sits in the opposition benches and waits for its turn to form the government.

This system allows the bourgeoisie to resolve contradictions within its ranks. It enables the bourgeoisie to keep workers and peasants under the illusion that their concerns can and will be addressed within the system.

The bourgeoisie even allows parties that claim to fight for the interests of the working class to be in charge of the government, when it knows that they have given up the aim of the revolutionary overthrow of the system.

Even though workers and peasants of our country waged heroic struggle for independence from colonial rule, the end of colonial rule saw the transfer of power to the big capitalists and big landowners who were represented in the Constituent Assembly. The ruling bourgeoisie was forced to establish universal adult franchise. However it made sure that supreme power remained in its hands, by retaining the system of representative democracy in which sovereignty vested in the executive.

The bourgeoisie attacked the revolutionary forces, and at the same time worked to foster illusions amongst workers and peasants that their interests could be defended within the system of parliamentary democracy. Towards this end, it has focused on building up a credible parliamentary opposition.

In the fifties, various bourgeois opposition parties came into being. JRD Tata wrote to the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that he would be funding the Swatantara Party in addition to the Congress, in order to ensure that people disillusioned with the Congress did not follow the road of the Communist Party.

In the 1960’s, the monopoly of power enjoyed by the Congress Party was broken and non-Congress governments were formed in various states.

The bourgeoisie unleashed the Emergency in 1975 to crush the revolutionary forces, and at the same time prepare a parliamentary opposition to the Congress Party. Various leaders of opposition parties were promoted by being jailed, and the Janata Party was brought to power in 1977.

Since the 1980’s, the bourgeoisie has built up the BJP as one of its principal parties other than the Congress. The anti-corruption movement in 2011-2013, which had the backing of US imperialism, greatly weakened Congress led UPA government at the Center. In these conditions, the bourgeoisie brought the BJP to power at the center, and the Aam Admi Party in Delhi. The Congress Party was greatly weakened.

Over the past ten years, the parliamentary opposition has been weak and discredited. The ruling class has been working to create a parliamentary alternative to the BJP.

Having a strong parliamentary opposition ensures that the attention of the workers and peasants are riveted to the goings-on in parliament, in the hope that the parliamentary opposition will defend their interests. It helps to prevent workers and peasants from seeking an alternative to the present system — a system in which people will set the agenda and be the decision makers.

The 2024 election results reflect the will of the bourgeois class headed by the monopoly capitalists. By bringing the INDIA alliance close to power, the ruling class wants to keep such illusions alive amongst workers and peasants.

These elections hold an important message from the ruling class that the party in charge of the government must ensure that the credibility of the system is maintained. It must not pursue its own narrow self-serving agenda, in the process destroying the credibility of various state institutions in the eyes of the people.

In conclusion, the NDA and the INDIA alliance are both part of the single front of the bourgeoisie. Neither represents the interests of workers and peasants.

These election results will not lead to any qualitative change. Power will continue to be wielded by the bourgeoisie.

We need to replace the existing system of parliamentary democracy with a modern democracy in which people exercise decision-making power.

More than 150 years ago, in 1871 the heroic workers of Paris established the Paris Commune. In 1917, the workers of the Soviet Union established the rule of the Soviets of workers and peasants under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party. The workers and peasants of our country must draw appropriate lessons from the system that was established in those countries.

The crucial lesson to be drawn is that the working class can never establish its rule without overthrowing the rule of the bourgeoisie through the revolution. It cannot use the state apparatus that the bourgeoisie uses to rule over workers and peasants. It has to overthrow the state of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in its place.

We must establish the new system of proletarian democracy in place of the existing system. Working people must be able to select and elect their representatives, hold them accountable and to recall them at any time if they do not act in our best interests. We must be able to initiate, approve or reject laws and policies.

With decision making power in our hands, we the working people will be able to change the orientation of the economy to ensuring the fulfilment of the ever-growing needs of the whole of society.

In the interventions that followed this presentation, many comrades elaborated on how the existing system completely marginalizes workers, peasants, women and youth from any role in decision making. They gave vivid examples to show that it is the bourgeoisie headed by monopoly capitalists which is ruling over our country, and the system of parliamentary democracy is their preferred method of rule.

Several participants pointed out how the anger of the people against the BJP government  has been used by the bourgeoisie to line up the people behind the Congress Party and the India Alliance. We must not create illusions about this system – this was a theme that resonated in the voices of the participants.

The task facing workers, peasants, women and youth is to strengthen our fighting unity and escalate our struggle against the bourgeois offensive, in defence of our livelihood and rights. We must wage this struggle with the strategic aim of establishing our own rule – that is, the rule of workers and peasants in place of the rule of the bourgeoisie. This was the concluding message that the participants resolved to take widely among the workers, peasants, women and youth.

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