People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 16

April 26, 2009



Parties Ignored Problems, People Ignore Parties

THE more the election process moves forward in Haryana, the more is the erosion in credibility of the Congress party’s claim that it would sweep in all the ten Lok Sabha seats in the state. The fact is the absence of a pro-people and credible alternative in the state had given the chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hudda, somewhat unjustified confidence in this regard. But the internal dissensions within the party exploded into the open by the time the ticket distribution was finalised. In accordance with the established inner-party tradition that a chief minister tries to run the party in his or her state according to his or her whims, Hudda tried to corner all the seats for his cohorts, which he thought was his divine right. But then his opponents too, within the cabinet or outside, became active to somehow humble him down. However, while the wranglings were confined to the Delhi Durbar for months together, they reached the crescendo at the time of the ticket distribution, leaving no option for the High Command except to somehow strike a balance for the time being. But the balance that was thus struck is now replacing the earlier cold war situation by an open war, and the situation in most of the constituencies is that the authorised party nominees can claim the support of only one faction.

On the other hand, callous towards the problems facing the people, the BJP-INLD alliance, BSP or the Jan Hit Party of Bhajan Lal have nothing to say in their election rallies though none of them refrains from claiming that it would bag all the seats. And this free entertainment show of theirs is taking place at a time when the rural people are busy in harvesting their crops and have no time to listen to such bogus claims. Only after having ensured the safety of their harvest from untimely rains, dust storms or hailstorms would they be in a position to ask the political parties to account for their past misdeeds.

In 2004, the people of Haryana were incensed with the misrule of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and gave their support to the Congress party which bagged 9 out of 10 seats. Nay more, in the state assembly polls that followed, the people reiterated their support for the Congress which bagged two third seats, despite inner factional feuds, and formed a government here. But the latter attended only to the demands made by the industrialists and the landed gentry, and callously ignored the people’s problems. The chief minister had been claiming that he has made Haryana the number one state in the country, but the claim stands exposed by the fact that few industrial units were established and few people got jobs in this period. On the contrary, lakhs of acres of land were acquired in the name of special economic zones (SEZs), rendering a large number of people landless and homeless.

The people’s lives have become more miserable, and fulfilling the minimum necessities has become more difficult. Many are unable to get two square meals a day. The state government has utterly failed to eradicate unemployment. No new positions were created in the public sector enterprises, nor were appointments made in the seats lying vacant. The process of casualisation of jobs is on in full steam. Industrial workers are forced to work in inhuman conditions, and are not getting even the declared minimum wage. The people working in the brick kilns, house construction, forest department, anganwadi centres and other departments or sectors, as also the rural chowkidars, sweepers and other unorganised sector workers in the state are facing indescribable sufferings. They are today not sure about their housing, health protection and their children’s education.

Agrarian crisis in the state is deepening by the day. The cost of cultivation has gone up while the peasants are unable to get cheap credit, leading to their increasing indebtedness. Many have been unable to pay back, and are therefore off and on receiving notices that their plots would be acquired and auctioned by the government. There is shortage of power, irrigation water and fertilisers, while the sale of spurious insecticides, seeds and fertilisers are causing serious headache to the cultivators. Nor are the latter are not getting any remunerative prices for their produce. In such a situation, any unexpected natural disaster is enough to ruin their whole economy --- for some time at least.

The result is that peasants are compelled to end their own lives even in a rich and prosperous state like Haryana. Increasing mechanisation of agriculture is eroding the job potential in the state.

Common man is today burdened with rising prices, unemployment and corruption. Prices of the necessities of life are particularly increasing while the central government is claiming to have brought down the inflation rate to a measly 0.18 percent. The high prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and kerosene oil has hit the people in many ways. But the public distribution system has been so recast as to push the bulk of the people out of its ambit. People are being harassed for weeks and months together for getting yellow or pink cards.

Private educational institutions are being established in large numbers in the name of educational development. While private polytechnics, JBT and B Ed colleges and ANM training centres are abounding, government-run institutions are facing criminal neglect. Students in these institutions are not getting even minimal facilities of books and labs while the continuing ban on student union elections is adding to their deprivation. They are deprived of their democratic rights for years.

Instead of fulfilling the justified demands of the people, the Hudda government is seeking to beguile them with populist announcements. It is patting its own back with announcements like 100 square yard plots for each poor family, old-age pension, minimum wage for workers, increase in the honorarium of anganwadi workers, helpers, rural chowkidars and forest workers etc --- to name only a few announcements. Amusingly, the opposition parties are claiming these as their own victories. But many of these remain unfulfilled, while the workers and employees in the unorganised sector units are not even getting the declared minimum wage.

Law and order situation is deteriorating in the state. There have been several instances of the killing of innocent people by the uncontrolled police force. The latter were also involved, directly or indirectly, in a number of cases of gender oppression. Vested interests are simply violating the rule of law in the name of the khap panchayats, even going to the extent of ordering the murder of young boys and girls if they dare to claim their right to marry by their choice. The parties of the ruling classes too are appeasing these elements, thus emboldening them further. The patriarchal regime and feudal values have relegated the female folk to the status of second class citizens, making their life hell-like. While a spurious kind of modernity is having a field day in the state, evils like foetus killing, child marriage, dowry, purdah, gender violence and caste oppression have also grown manifold on the other hand.

The irony is that the state lacks a credible and united alternative even though the failures of the Congress government are patently clear. The main opposition party, the INLD, has not raised its voice on any issue facing the people during the last four odd years. The BJP-INLD alliance is based on a caste communal platform instead of having a positive programme. Not surprisingly, this opportunist alliance has failed to enthuse the people of Haryana. Nor are the BSP and others able to rise up to the occasion. At the national level, they have committed to work for the formation of a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative, but are not sure about their stand at the state level. The CPI(M) state secretary, Inderjit Singh, has written to them asking them to come together for chalking out a combined strategy so that any division of secular democratic votes might be avoided and thus the defeat of the Congress as well as the BJP-INLD alliance might be ensured.

The CPI(M) and the Left have played a leading role in building up mass struggles on the burning issues of the people, like rising prices and joblessness, growing corruption and criminalisation, etc. They were in the lead of struggle to get the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in the state, and in forging the campaigns of various classes and sections, like workers, peasants, women, employees, youth and students.

For the 15th Lok Sabha, the CPI(M) and the CPI have put up candidates in the Sirsa and Karnal seats respectively. The CPI(M)’s candidate is Ramkumar Bahbalpuria who is general secretary of the state unit of All India Agricultural Workers Union and a member of the CPI(M) state committee.

The Sirsa seat lies on the western side of the state, adjoining Rajasthan as well as Punjab. This seat, reserved for the scheduled castes, comprises five0 assembly segments of Sirsa, three of Fatehabad and one of Jind districts. Lying in the so-called green revolution belt, the area is characterised by extreme disparities. Workers and peasants are suffering from back-breaking indebtedness. The CPI(M) and various mass organisations have conducted intensive struggles in the whole area in the last three odd decades.

Sirsa is the home district of INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala. A bid chunk of the landed gentry has been the chief beneficiaries of the policies pursued by the INLD and the Congress. The CPI(M) and various mass organisations have been successful in getting several bonded labour families released from the servitude of these landed elite. The Kisan Sabha has saved the land of many indebted peasants from takeover and auction. The CITU has organised the brick kiln workers and led their struggles.

The CPI(M) has so far conducted meetings in more than 300 villages and formed booth level committees. The party has issued an appeal to the Haryana electorate to vote for and support the Left parties so as to contribute to the success of the third alternative at the national level.