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Dandakaranya

Why Voting Is Futile

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Parliamentary democracy is an illusion for the masses while revolution is their reality

To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter.

—Marx

Once again the great Indian fraud is on—the spectacle of the farce of parliamentary elections. Even apologists of parliamentary democracy in India are quick to call it the most fragmented election ever to be fought. In this make-believe world of the so-called largest ‘democracy’, even those who vouch the system are not ready to say who their friends/foes are in this sham of representation. This predicament is best summed up by Lalu Prasad—one of the PMs in waiting—when he wryly observes that “when all of us want to win, why contest separately?” The musical chairs that ensues the post-poll scenario is as fluid as the craving needs of an abusive drunkard short of money. Anyone who has more than 30 seats in the next Lok Sabha election will be a strong contender for the PM’s post in the dog-eat-dog world of parliamentary politics.

Fully aware of the complete loss of face of a process that has hardly evoked confidence in the average citizen of the ‘republic’, all the parliamentary parties, right from the Congress and BJP to the parliamentary ‘Marxists’, are harping on the need for every citizen to cast their vote, failing which they are set for ‘doom’. The electronic and print media are abuzz with a variety of advertisements exhorting every voter to utilise a non-existent weapon—their vote. Sixty years after the transfer of power by the British to their servile counterparts in the Subcontinent, it has become inevitable for the comprador Indian ruling classes to conjure up some legitimacy among the masses, every five years, under the smokescreen of elections, for their right to loot and plunder.

ELECTIONS OR THE POLITICS OF CHARCHA, PARCHA AND KHARCHA

The official estimate of expenditure on the present election is a whopping Rs 10,000 crore. This does not include expense on advertisements issued by various ruling parties, using the people’s money. A cursory look at the recently-concluded election for the Kashmir Assembly shows how much money is illegally routed by the state to manufacture consent from people who have been consistently raising their voice for Azaadi. That the Election Commission, a toothless wonder, can do little is evident when we look into the last Assembly election in Karnataka. Media reports have mentioned that on an average each candidate of the BJP, Congress and JD(S) spent at least Rs 5-6 crore in his/her region. Most notably, for nine seats in the iron ore-rich Bellary district, and in almost all urban centres, the money spent by each candidate was to the tune of Rs 15-18 crore. The big mining mafia of Bellary along with real estate dons played a key role in bankrolling thousands of crores for the BJP. The real estate dons also doubled up as candidates for the BJP. 

In Andhra Pradesh, just a day before the declaration of the election schedule, loyal babus of the YSR government worked through the night at the Secretariat, literally burning the midnight oil (with lights off) to sign 3,000 pre-dated government orders, granting benefits to those they favoured. Not to be left behind, the techno-savvy former CM Chandrababu Naidu raised the jackpot by doling out one crore colour TVs to the poor, besides several other sops.

So much for the triumph of the democracy!

THE PARLIAMENTARY MARXISTS

The most dubious role in legitimising the farce of parliamentary process lies with the so-called ‘mainstream’ Left. The CPI participated in elections even before the transfer of power, gaining British colonial legitimacy. It has since graduated from being reformist to a ruling class party with the CPM turning into social fascists. Their new partner this time is the CPI (ML), i.e., CPI (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, which entered the electoral fray in the early 1980s. Notwithstanding their radical pretensions, they stand exposed as the most degenerate, as they keep changing their partners in their eagerness to feel the gaddi.

Without the support of the social fascists, that imperialist stooge Manmohan Singh could not have passed several anti-people policies and anti-national acts in Parliament. Thus, after four years of hobnobbing with the UPA, they (CPM) had to pull out from the Government on the nuclear-deal issue in a desperate face-saving attempt. The Third Front that they think they will manage with crooks and gangsters like Chandrababu Naidu, Mayawati, Jayalalitha, and Deve Gowda, is bound to collapse. The politics of convenient alliances just to get to the gaddi or to be a dominant partner has really brought out the opportunistic and anti-people nature of the parliamentary Left—even their anti-communal pretensions. When it comes to the real problems of the people, their subservience to imperialist interests has hardly made them different from the Congress and BJP.

EMERGING SCENARIO AND AGRARIAN DISTRESS

Whether it is the Congress-led UPA or the erstwhile BJP-led NDA, all combinations of the parliamentary circus have—a mute testimony of their comprador nature—very faithfully implemented the Structural Adjustment Programme dictated by the IMF and World Bank, euphemistically called LPG. The outcome of this ‘Shining India’ is there for everyone to see.

As the world economy reels under the worst-ever crisis since the Great Depression, India has been deeply embedded more than ever in the imperialist web, particularly of the US. The dominance of foreign capital has never been so strengthened. Even the smallest trough in the Western economies has deep repercussions in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country like India, as 40 per cent of its GDP comes from foreign trade.    

The violent brutality of the LPG policy reaches its zenith in the story of more than 180,000 peasants who have committed suicide in the last ten years due to the mounting agrarian crisis when the Vajpayees and Manmohans were shamelessly peddling the story of ‘Shining India’. The annual growth rate in agricultural production has further dipped from 3.8 per cent in 2006-07 to 2.6 per cent in 2007-08, owing to criminal neglect a la India Shining, by which prime agricultural land is allotted for the real estate bubble and bio-diesel production. The Centre’s expenditure on agriculture has fallen by 20 per cent between 1990-91 and 2004-05; on irrigation and flood control, by 15 per cent. This, despite the fact that agriculture still provides 70 per cent of employment, while the service sector, which accounts for 55 per cent of GDP, gives only a paltry 0.5 percent of employment. This shift in priority is also in the interest of multinational agro-based industries that have seen a burgeoning market in the world food crisis. Today, over 70 per cent of our people live in rural areas in utter penury, weighed down by varied forms of feudal, semi-feudal and now ‘modern’ forms of exploitation. More than 60 years of democracy have made little difference to over 77 per cent of the population who live on an average of Rs  20 per day.

Then, there’s this land grab in the name of development. The 600 odd SEZs which are all set to grab a massive 1,750 sq km of land will displace 1.14 lakh farming households and 82,000 labouring households (that is, a minimum of one million people, thus pushing the rural population to the brink). Further, thousands of MoUs on mining, mega-dams, super highways and so on, signed with imperialist and comprador capital, is nothing but a sellout of valuable resources of the people, while displacing millions of  their livelihood. The opening up of the huge retail market in India for multinational retail giants like Wal-Mart will displace 4-6 lakh families from their livelihood.

FLEECING THE PEOPLE

In these two decades, all political parties blamed each other for the ills of the economy while faithfully implementing policies of LPG without any discontinuity, which saw the rich getting richer and the lives of the poor going from bad to worse. The policy of industrialisation, tailor-made for the coffers of the comprador
bourgeoisie, have largely concentrated incomes in a few hands of top promoters and majority shareholders. The share of the corporate sector in India’s national income rose by 290 per cent over the last five years.   
This model of development has created billionaires like Mukesh Ambani, as many as one lakh millionaires, and a parasitic upper class eating off the crumbs of the super-rich. India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of poor in the world while also housing the second largest number of billionaires.

THE DEMOCRATIC ALTERNATIVE

What, then, would a real democracy entail? It would involve a genuine assertion of people’s power from the grassroots. People themselves will determine their future. All wings of the state—parties, political institutions, bureaucracy, judiciary, et al—will be answerable to the people; their having the right to recall. It would usher in a society where all are educated and conscious of their duties as well as rights. Moreover, a system where every single person has the minimum—food, clothing and shelter.

The initiative of the masses of Chhattisgarh under the CPI (Maoist) is a defining step in this direction. Organised under the Janatana Sarkar (people’s government), they have fought the efforts of the state to implement the pro-imperialist model of development in their immediate social formation. In Dandakaranya, this struggle started with the establishment of Gram Rajya Committees as the primary units of power, and today it has taken deep roots in the form of Revolutionary People’s Committees as the embryonic forms of people’s assertion at the village, block and division levels.

And remember these organs are run by Adivasis—once illiterate members of ‘tribes’—who, educated by the party, have become politically conscious through class struggle. These Revolutionary People’s Committees are taking shape in our guerilla zones and are playing an effective role. This is possible because a strong party that is actually capable of leading the people’s war has organised the people of the area in the form of mass organisations and people’s militia. The leadership of village party organisations operates at the village level. This embryonic people’s government in these guerilla zones is unflinchingly fighting the terror of India’s reactionaries and destroying its armed forces, wiping out its tools of exercising power.

The Revolutionary People’s Committees have raised the quality of people’s lives in these zones. They have enabled the people to evolve new farming techniques, water management through small check dams, bio-fertilisers, seed sharing and preservation, soil conservation, poultry farming, fish farming, health education, prevention of all curable diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition and so on. The underlying principle is equitable distribution sans disparities or any unevenness. The lives of the people have considerably been transformed. The role of superstitions in their lives, for example, has considerably reduced—with education playing an important role. The struggle to decide their own destiny has become their worldview, their songs and stories.  

Relative to all the state powers so far formed in India, these Revolutionary People’s Committees are the highest and truly democratic systems that would unleash the initiative of the broad masses of peasantry, develop their creativity and collectiveness in the people’s war.

With the financial crisis fast engulfing India, the country is moving towards a social explosion. None of the political parties have a definite answer for this imminent spectre. Rest assured, they might be overconfident, complacent and numb—as even without a crisis, they could kill more than one and a half lakh farmers, displace millions through their warped development policies, reduce the health conditions of masses to silent deaths, and massacre thousands. The toiling masses of India have only one path.

The robust road of revolution! To paraphrase Mao, the masses of the Indian subcontinent have to be practical and do the impossible!