Present political situation and general election 2014 – new initiative from peoples movements
9th February 2014, Lucknow, UP
As we are all aware that the political situation in India is changing very fast. The whole nation is passing through a decisive phase affecting all sections of people. As the election date is getting nearer, there is lot of turmoil in the political scenario where polarization of political forces has already been started. Alignment and re-alignment of various political and social forces have been going on simultaneously. As a result debates on future political scenario have been going on at a wider level. But still uncertainty about post electoral scenario persists very strongly.
General election is the time when wider political space is created. This is the time when negotiations among various political parties and at the same time dialogue between political parties and people also take place. Alignment amongst social forces also takes place during this period. It is evident that 2014 general election will play a decisive role in framing the future course of the country as a whole. At a time when mass movements are getting strengthened almost in every corner of the country either in protecting the livelihood and natural resources or against violence on women or against oppression on Adivasis , Dalits and Minorities, it is very important to see correlations of such movements ,in the context of people-state conflict. All these important issues and the struggles are directly related with the incumbent government and ruling alliances and will be so with the in - coming political powers. No doubt existing alliances will be replaced by new alliances of political forces. It is also evident in many struggling areas both in rural and urban areas that there exists a conflict between state and people. The main reason of this conflict is because of anti-people economic policies, absence of political will of the government for peoples’ welfare measures and that of bad governance. The dominant political forces have remained insensitive to the peoples’ demands for a radical change in the system. In this situation the common masses have become very aware about their economic, political and social demands and people want a fundamental change in the political system and they are not going to be satisfied with mere promises or packages. They want to see a concrete and realistic change of affairs in the system and so in the governance. Patch work or fixing will not work anymore. Political parties also have a sense of this reality but are not being able to accept their failures directly and to admit that this system will not work anymore. Even in the presidential address on the eve of republic Day the President has also admitted that “hypocrisy and show business” will not work. Interestingly, he himself was in the government for a long period till some eighteen months back. There is an all round fear among the leading parties of incoming thrust from the people for total change of the system, which they are terming as anarchy. There is clear denouncement of the concept of welfare state (the President referred this as “charitable shop”) and also of the democratic right to protest. Dominant political forces are trying to show that this crisis of the system as crisis of individual leadership and a conscious effort has been going on to redefine the electoral battle as battle between two leaders eg. Modi vs Rahul or Modi vs Kejriwal, as if existing leader is changed by another leader, everything will be settled. They are trying to mislead the people by showing it be a fight of individuals so that the issues which have come out from peoples’ movements would go in the back stage and the issues of dominant capitalist forces will become national issues. We are all aware that capitalist system, both at international and national level, is facing an irreversible economic and political crisis and they have no way out to get over this crisis and mainstream political leaders are shaky to face the common peoples’ assertions and hoping that corporate will help them to tide over the crisis. This is for the first time in our electoral history a party that is claiming to replace the present regime is openly advocating corporatization of the economy and religious nationalism and on the other hand the ruling party is advocating the continuing of corporate loot of resources in the name of development for the advancement of the nation. Chief claimants of power have no regard for the popular demands for sustainable livelihood, protection of resources, security and dignity of common people. Regional parties are also following the same track. There is clear conflict of interest between mainstream political parties and the peoples’ movements.
In this context it is important to note a new political party has emerged on the premise of social movements. Although this new political formation has not been able to present its political and economic and social programs fully before the people but undoubtedly it has created a new enthusiasm among some sections of our struggling people. At the same time it is also evident that the new political formation also is taking away the space created by the social movements. Independent and sovereign space for the social movements is critically important for the growth of mass political initiative and so it is equally important to protect this social space for the strengthening the democratic process within this diverse social reality. Dynamics of electoral politics and that of mass movements are different from each other. Movement groups can not and should not be carried away by the tide, however powerful it may be. No doubt social and workers' mass movements are getting vulnerable under continuous attack from the state but still we are primarily accountable to our constituencies and fraternity.
In fact, a similar situation is emerging like the situation which emerged in the last phase of emergency in 1977. In that period also people came out on the streets against the atrocious policies of the then Indira Gandhi government but no progressive forces and especially the left forces did not take any initiative to intervene in the changing political situation. Labour and social movements also could not make any effective intervention – as a result right-centrist and communal forces prevailed over the situation and became dominant in the future political process. Barring one or two exceptions most of the governments which came after 1977 followed the anti people policies. Within some years Congress came back to power and ultimately in 1991, the then minority government led by Congress initiated the liberalization process and by marginalizing the labour and weaker sections, strengthened the capitalist and communal forces.
It is therefore pertinent that social movements and independent labour movements should come together to unite the forces of diverse peoples’ movements and to intervene in the changing political situation positively and decisively. It should come out openly with the popular demands to engage with political forces to initiate a process of meaningful changes in the system. But before initiating any engagement with political parties it is necessary to discuss among the movement based organizations mutually and collectively so that a collective and sustainable process of political dialogue can be initiated. Collective effort is necessary for any such process to be effective. Diversity within the movement and its demands needs to be combined so that it can become a political demand from the social and labour movements. Separate initiatives, however sincere, will not be effective. Recently, a prominent social movement alliance has decided to join the new political formation on its own which has created a sort of crisis situation within the social movement. Now it is necessary for social and labour movements to come together to create an independent political constituency representing diverse tendencies in the people’s movements. It is imperative that such action has to be collective and as broad as possible. We must start this now or never.
Concerning issues for campaign (Suggestions):
· Protection of livelihood and resources
· Community governance over natural resources instead of state ownership
· Protection of traditional producers/artisans
· Abolishment of land acquisition act and establishing land rights to actual tillers and right for homestead land; distribution of surplus land to landless; ensuring women’s right over land and other natural resources.
· Power to gram sabhas and mohallah sabhas (for urban semi- urban areas)
· Abolishment of contract labour system in industries
· Protection of right to form unions, associations
· Strengthening bipartite, tripartite collective negotiation system.
· Ensuring living wage for all working people.
· Ensuring social security system for all working population including old age population
· New industrialization with zero displacement
· Abolition of all private public partnership projects
· Time bound recovery of corporate debt from public financial institutions
· Ensuring social justice for all marginalized sections (political, economic, cultural)
· Strict law against communal violence
· Ensuring education for all; proper functioning of government schools; control of privatization of education; facilitating technical education at block/taluka level
· Ensuring proper health service up to village level
· Ensuring community participation in health and education services
· Democracy in usage of energy
· Disarmament and peace with neighboring nations;
· re-establishment of non-aligned foreign policy
Long live the victory of Peoples' Struggle! Long Live,
All India Union of Forest Woring People