Volume 5, No. 2-3, February-March 2004


The Election Farce & BJP’s Fascist AGENDA



Hitler too came to power through the mechanism of the bourgeois parliamentary elections. Elections itself does not mean democracy. If, together with elections, one is denied the right to strike, the right to free expression, the right to take processions, the right to protest, the right to a fair trial, etc., that is no democracy.

Over the last couple of years, under the BJP dispensation, even the limited rights that earlier existed have been systematically withdrawn. Added to that have been introduced the dreaded POTA and many other norms restricting the right to protest. The judiciary is more directly becoming an arm of the growing fascist state, passing the most anti-people judgements. Even the press has developed its own semi-fascist code, glorifying the most reactionary, while ignoring the oppressed masses and their movements.

Together with this there are the vigilante forces being raised by the BJP and various other parties. The Bajrang Dal, VHP and other such are fascist storm troopers outside the pale of the legal system, as was witnessed in the genocide in Gujarat, with all the culprits being let off free by even the High Court. So also the Green tigers, the Naeem gang and other such act as the storm troopers of the Naidu government in AP, killing, torturing and threatening even ordinary civil rights workers. The CPM uses much of their own cadre as storm troopers to crush dissent from any source (as with its rule in West Bengal).

So, within the life of the people there is little or no democracy. And, on this undemocratic system is being imposed these elections. The State is moving systematically towards a fascist dispensation, with the BJP/RSS in the lead, with or without elections. For the people of the country this is the greatest danger. And as this fascist AGENDA is part of a composite package of sell out to the imperialists, particularly the US, it also entails a traitorous sell-out of the country’s sovereignty. In fact much of this fascist agenda is manufactured in Washington and is a part and parcel of the ‘Bush Doctrine’ that is now creating havoc throughout the world. The so-called war against terrorism—the essence of the new Bush Doctrine—is a declaration of war against the oppressed people, the growing people’s movements against the imperialist policies of globalisation, war and suppression of national aspirations of the people. It is a declaration of war against socialism, communism and the revolutionary movements led by the Maoist forces worldwide.

And while the BJP and its allies are the most vociferous in pushing this AGENDA the others are not far behind in acting in similar fashion when in power. All follow the imperialist dictated policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisaton (LPG) of the economy which is resulting in mass impoverisation and enormous wealth to the moneybags. While on the Hindutva fascist agenda the Congress, SP, BSP, TDP and some others adopt a soft or tailist approach; while the CPI/CPM, DMK, etc adopt a policy of appeasement. None of the parliamentary outfits adopt a policy of confrontation, as the main-line parties are all a part of the ruling classes.

It is then, in this scenario that the elections are being held. The AGENDA can be summed up as: economic policies of imperialist-dictated LPG + the political policies of Hindutva fascism. The attitude of any political entity towards this AGENDA will determine the character of the party vis-ŕ-vis the interests of the people and the country at large. Some may lead the AGENDA from the front, others may push it through the back door, yet others may tail it, yet others may put on a show of mock opposition to it…….. and only some may confront it head-on. The concrete practice of the political forces will determine their attitude, not merely their statements and electoral rhetoric.

The dissolution of the 13th Lok Sabha a full eight months before the end of its term is a sign of the BJP’s desperation to seize power at any cost. Utilising the effects of a good monsoon they have coined the farcical slogans "shining India" and "feel good factor"; as though the results of a good monsoon are because of BJP policy. But, it is the uncertainty of the coming monsoon primarily that has pushed them to dissolve parliament prematurely, showing up the hoax of its slogans. And to promote this falsehood of a "development agenda" it immediately set out with a massive Rs.400 crore advertisement campaign.

The BJP’s electoral campaign comprises a heady mix of Hindutva + Development. Hindutva caters to the most backward elements, while so-called development is for the urban crowd. So, while the Prime Minister himself launches the election campaign from Ayodhya on Feb. 7th, the main focus of the Mahajan-types is "development" and the "Vision 2020" Document. While Hindutva will remain the continuous background theme, the aggressive propaganda focus will be ‘development’.

So, on Feb.7 Vajpayee thundered at Ayodhya: "We have come to you to seek another term of 5 years. There are many unfinished tasks …….. among them is the task of building a magnificent Ram temple on the site of Ram’s birth in Ayodhya." The media faithfully propagated this widely in the front pages of all newspapers and TV news bulletins.

Shining India ?

The hoardings greet you everywhere: uplifting images of happy, smiling (mostly middle class) Indians enjoying material consumption beyond their wildest expectations, striding confidently into the future and proudly looking back on recent achievements. On the television screens, the ad campaigns are about as blatant as a ruling government can dare to be just before national elections. Apparently, there has never been a better time to be an Indian; we have never had it so good.

Not only are we internationally mobile global citizens with access to the best consumer goods in the world as well as oodles of consumer credit with which to buy them; we are now getting international recognition because of our prowess in new sectors like IT. In fact, we are full of such self-confidence that even our national team can (occasionally) beat the Australians at cricket!

All this has happened, or so the ruling party would have us believe, because of the excellent economic and political management of the NDA government in the past five years. According to this vision, India is on the verge of achieving economic superpower greatness and is riding the crest of material success.

But just step outside these glorious images for a moment, and look into the fringes of the picture, which actually make up the background. A very different reality emerges. Rural India is in the grip of an agrarian crisis that is unprecedented in its spread and severity, in these past fifty years. Many once flourishing urban industrial centres, especially in the north and east, are now in terminal decline.  Even in the smarter and dynamic metros, look beyond the wide streets to the by-lanes of the slums, and you will see scenes of despair, tension and even violence because of joblessness and material insecurity.

The recent past has witnessed the slowest rate of employment growth in post-independence history, agrarian crisis and worsening food security for the poor across the country. There are daily reports of starvation deaths and increasing numbers of suicides by indebted farmers unable to cope with the strain. Small producers are being wiped out in many sectors. Traditional moneylenders, whose clout had reduced somewhat by earlier efforts to bring institutional banking to the rural areas, are making a comeback, emboldened by the financial liberalisation measures that have undermined the spread of banking to the poor. The availability of public services and access to them have deteriorated for most people, especially — but not only — in the rural areas. The majority of India’s citizens live in more fragile, vulnerable and insecure material circumstances than before.

Most of all, the youth face bleak and shaky futures, with little hope of secure employment, as job opportunities have simply not kept pace with the growth of the labour force. This collapse in employment generation is starkest in the rural areas, where the rate of increase of all forms of work (including casual, part-time and subsidiary jobs) has been less than 0.6 per cent per year – that is only around one-third the rate of growth of the labour force. But it is even noticeable in most urban areas.

This was cruelly evident some months ago, when around 30,000 petty but secure jobs in the Railways, with the required qualification of Class 8 pass and paying Rs. 6,000 per month, attracted more than 7 lakh applicants, most of whom were heavily over-qualified with graduate and post-graduate degrees. The examinations for these jobs were surrounded by rioting which claimed many lives in some states, reflecting the growing desperation of ordinary young people.

A UNDP Report says that less than 5% of the population has access to essential drugs, only 30% use adequate sanitary facilities, 47% of the children under 5 years are malnourished and only 42% of births attended to by skilled staff. As per the Citizen’s Report: over one-third illiterate persons in the world is an Indian, India has the largest number of illiterates in the world; public spending on education which was 30 paisa per head in 2002-03, has declined further to 18 paisa per head in 2003-04. Social Watch India Report 2003 said that the public sector spending on social sectors such as health, education, water, housing, sanitation, and poverty alleviation has fallen over the years. India is one of the lowest in health spending — public investment in health fell from 1.3% of GDP in 1990 to 0.6% in 2002.

Employment growth has been dismal at 0.87% between 1993 and 2000. The rate of growth is also falling from 2.2% in the 1977-91 period to 1.5% in the 1991-2000 period. Besides, in the type of jobs created since the early 1990s, 96.5% was in the unorganised sector, and a mere 3.5% in the organised sector. Even the much hyped service sector saw a drop in employment of 9.2% in the 1994-2000 period. (Business World; March 1, 2004)

The Citizen’s Report points out that instead of recognising the problems of the bottom half of the population, the government does not even admit that almost half the Indian population does not have access to food, health care, education, water and sanitation. For them there is no "Shining India"; only misery and more misery. Of course for them their attention is sought to be diverted by the Hindutva magic, whipped up with anti-minority fanaticism.

Here there is no "shine" it is only darkness. In fact in a latest report of the FAO (Food & Agricultural Organisation) says that the number of those suffering from malnutrition and hunger has increased by a massive 2 crores since 1996/97. No amount of advertising and lies can hide this glaring truth. A visit out of the posh localities of the urban areas by the journalists who wax eloquent on the "feel good factor" to the slums and rural areas will give a picture of the real India; not the make-believe world of the rich.

Promises for the Masses; Actual gifts to the Rich

Even the interim budget which has been propagated as an election budget is a fake. Here, once again, all the huge concessions and subsidies have gone to the rich; while the poor have got merely promises. On the contrary a huge Rs.5,000 crores have been extracted from them by a cut in the subsidy on food, kerosene and cooking gas.

For the rural population, who have been the worst hit by the policies of economic reforms, there were mere suggestions for a reduction in the credit rate to 9% (car loans are available at 6%); the so-called packages for agricultural development and the extension of the Antyodaya Anna Yojna to 2 crore families, saw very little increased allocation in real terms.

But the gifts to the rich and business have been substantial. In January itself an enormous Rs.11,000 crores was given by a series of measures, like a cut in customs duty, abolishment of foreign travel tax, excise duty on aviation fuel halved, duty on cell phones cut further, etc.

On February 4 the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) took a major step to push the country towards capital account convertibility of the rupee — a step that had devastated the economies of S.E.Asia in 1997 — by which any person is allowed to remit abroad up to $25,000 (i.e. over a million rupees) a year without permission. This is nothing but a step to further facilitate the robbing of India’s wealth by the compradors and foreign capitalists. The step saw widespread jubilation in the camp of the foreign speculators, their agents and comprador associates. The massive inflow of hot money by the international sharks of finance capital which has boosted India’s foreign exchange reserves, and taken the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) index to dizzying heights in the last year, is being sought to be portrayed as major factors for a robust economy. But this huge inflow of money is nothing but foreign capital which gets a minimum return of 7% in India (compared to 2.8% abroad) and in fact speculative returns on the stock exchange exceeding even 100% returns. With foreign exchange reserves jumping from $63 billion in Sept.2002 to $102 billion today, it will, in fact, entail big outflows of foreign exchange in the form of interest and other returns.

The budget itself gave big concessions to different segments of industry — shipping, sugar, power, etc. The Cooperative Sector has been granted a huge Rs.15,000 crores to bail it out of its losses, that have resulted from corruption at the top. The HRD ministry has sought to extend the elite institutes in the county by: doubling the number of seats for the IIMs, and setting up six more IITs and six medical institutes of the AIIMS status.

No doubt with all these measures the rich will "feel good". But what is there for the masses or even the ordinary middle-classes — nothing. As much as the gloss and shine for the elite glows, in direct proportion, that for the masses turns dull and lacklustre. For the top politicians and bureaucrats life does not go beyond these elite circles for most periods; only for votes they must make the routine visit to the masses with their false promises.

The Electoral Trapeze

The present electoral scenario is more like a circus where the trapeze swings from one end to the other. There are a horde of politicians crossing the floor from one party to the other — principles be damned. They go where their personal interests are best served. So also a host of film and other stars are flocking to the BJP as it appears to be the winning horse. With crores of black money all such elements would prefer to choose the most likely winner to protect their ill-gotten gains.

Today it is the imperialists and the big business houses in the country that are the prime promoters of the BJP-style fascist rule. It is they who gain the maximum from it. It is this US-backed BJP rule which is the main danger to the people of our country and should be fought tooth and nail. While doing so all the other ‘opposition’ parties must be exposed for the fact that they basically follow the BJP agenda, particularly on its economic policies. While boycotting the coming electoral farce it is the BJP fascists and their allies that need to be specifically targeted. With their fascistic type of rule they do not allow the people the right for ordinary protest, let alone the right to strike. So why should they be allowed the right to move freely spreading their fascistic poison. What is called for is a people’s ban on these fascist forces — a total boycott of their rallies and meetings; curbs on their movements and campaigns (done at huge expense from people’s monies); the blacking out of their hoardings and posters; and a smashing of their hoodlum and goonda forces.

The All-India bandh call given by the MCCI and the CPI(ML)(PW), and implemented in nine states of the country on Feb.27, was the first step in the direction of fighting the growing state repression and fascist policies of the ruling classes. The bandh totally paralysed rail and road traffic in Bihar and Jarkhand and saw the death of a BJP leader in Andhra Pradesh. The bandh call was also implemented in UP, Orissa, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mahrashtra.

Finally, to understand the nature of our so-called electoral system, what better authority than the Chief Election Commissioner. A month before his retirement the CEC, Lyngdoh, said that Indian politicians were like a cancer — and like cancer it was incurable. Of course he did not have the alternative, which can only be through the area-wise seizure of power from below. Yet, Lyngdoh’s statement, as CEC shows to what level the politicians have degerated.

Today, the only alternative to the bankrupt and degenerate system, is to overthrow it. This is not possible through election. It can only be achieved through a major revolt by arousing the masses for armed struggle. The masses thus aroused with revolutionary politics must set up alternative power in the villages and mohallas by smashing the authority of the rural elite, the power brokers, the politicians, the bureaucrats and the various organs of the state machinery that operate at the local level. The new power would then implement pro-people economic, political and cultural policies and not that of the moneybags. Such power is already to be seen in embryonic form in AP, Dandakarnaya, Bihar-Jarkhand. Its extension and growth is the only hope for the future of this country, to liberate it from the hands of the ruling mafia.




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