People's Democracy

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


No. 09

March 02, 2014




Relief for People only through

An Alternative Policy Trajectory


THE Joint Declaration issued by the secular non-Congress, non-BJP opposition parties in the light of the forthcoming 16th general elections made it unequivocally clear that they have come together responding to the overwhelming urge of our people who are desperately looking for relief from the growing economic burdens that are leading to a sharp decline in  quality of life. Apart from the four Left parties, leaders of five other regional parties were present at the meeting.  These include the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav,  the ruling party in Bihar, JD(U) chief  minister Nitish Kumar, parliamentary leader of the AIADMK, ruling party in Tamilnadu, Thambi Durai, Janata Dal (Secular), former prime minister of India, Deve Gowda and the former ruling party of Jharkhand, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha.  These nine parties together represent states that have a total of 265 MPs of the Lok Sabha.  The ruling party of Odisha, Biju Janata Dal and the former ruling  party of Assam, Asom Gana Parishad, associated with the process but were not present at the meeting. If the MPs from their states are added, then this number rises to 300.  Additionally, the People’s Party of Punjab, Prakash Ambedkar’s Republican Party, Maharashtra and many other regional parties are expressing their intention to join such a coming together of secular opposition parties in the interests of building a better India.  Thus, parties that are either ruling or are the main opposition from various major states of our country are coming together in response to the people’s urge today. Together they come from states that send an overwhelming majority of MPs to the Lok Sabha. 


The Joint Declaration of this meeting made it absolutely clear that this people’s yearning for relief can only be met by an alternative policy trajectory. As far as the economic policy direction and corruption are concerned, people see little difference, rightly so, between the BJP and the Congress. Additionally, the BJP, acting as the political arm of the RSS, continues to sharpen communal polarisation through the pursuit of its hardcore Hindutva agenda. Thus, any alternative policy trajectory in the country can only come about through a political alternative that will necessarily have to be a non-Congress, non-BJP combination.


The meeting of the non-Congress, non-BJP secular parties and the Joint Declaration is in accordance with the understanding that the CPI(M) arrived at, at its 20th Congress. The Political Resolution said: “As against the Congress and the BJP, the CPI(M) puts forth the Left and democratic alternative. Only a Left and democratic platform can be the alternative to bourgeois-landlord rule. This alternative needs to be built up through a process of movements and struggles and the emergence of a political alliance of the Left and democratic forces. In the course of these efforts, it may be necessary to rally those non-Congress, non-BJP forces which can play a role in defence of democracy, national sovereignty, secularism, federalism and defence of the people’s livelihood and rights. The emergence of such joint platforms should help the process of building the alliance of the Left and democratic forces.


“In the present situation we should strive for joint actions with the non-Congress secular parties on issues so that the movements can be widened. On specific policy matters and people’s issues, there can be cooperation in parliament with these parties. As and when required, there can be electoral understandings with some of these parties.”  

The possibility of the emergence of such a political alternative has, naturally, put a spook in the wheels of those who are not only comfortable with the political bipolarity but see in such a bipolarity a `win-win’ situation.  A division of all political parties with the BJP as one pole and the Congress as the other suits all vested interests because all their objectives converge with either of this pole holding the reins of the central government, whether it be the pursuit of economic policies that would ensure profit maximisation or the patronage provided for the unfettered growth of `crony capitalism’ based on large-scale corruption. 


At the media conference which followed this meeting, there were many questions. While a large number were genuinely seeking answers to the concrete form and shape that such an alternative will take and the content of its programme, most questions reflected  both the anger and anguish that the comfortable applecart of bipolarity was being disrupted.  Upon being asked as to who is the likely prime ministerial candidate of such an alternative, the leaders told the media persons that the structure of Indian parliamentary democracy was such that the prime minister can only be elected by those members of parliament who are first elected by the people.  Mulayam Singh Yadav reminded them that from Morarji Desai to V P Singh to Deve Gowda, I K Gujral, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh – such was India’s history. Upon being asked as to what is the seat sharing agreement between the parties, they were informed that these would be finalised at the state level, based on the concrete realities there.  Media persons were reminded that on all occasions in India’s parliamentary history, all coalition governments starting from the 1977 Janata Party government, the coalitions took, both a concrete shape and a name, only post elections.  This was the case with the Vajpayee-led NDA and the Manmohan Singh-led UPA as well.  Hence, 2014 would be no different. 


As noted earlier in these columns, India Inc and their mentors, international finance capital, appear very worried at such a prospect which is likely to upset their expectations of greater profit maximisation at the expense of the Indian people. The corporate media is not far behind in this context. Few days ago (February 23, 2014), the Left held a Haryana level people’s rally for a political alternative at Hissar.  On the same day, the AAP held a rally, called much after the Left rally announcement, at nearby Rohtak.  The latter was widely covered by the corporate media while the former was hardly mentioned notwithstanding larger participation. This is not surprising.  Earlier, when Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement was on in the capital, over two lakh workers organised by the Central Trade Unions had converged at the Parliament Street against corruption and price rise.  While the former hogged 24/7 media coverage, the latter hardly found any mention.  Clearly, for the corporate media, a so-called `morally’ upright alternative that does not adversely affect profit maximisation is always better than an alternative that aims at improving people’s livelihood while not excessively promoting profit maximisation!


Speaking of Anna Hazare, many find it strange that he has now chosen to be the cheer leader of West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress. Sad, that someone like Anna, with his `moral uprightness’ and championing of honesty in public affairs should be seen openly cheering a party whose government in West Bengal has established a record of reducing the state as the rape capital of India and whose government has been admonished by the High Court for  openly harbouring criminal elements, leave alone corrupt ones. The mayor and the deputy mayor of the Shimla Municipal Corporation have issued an open letter to Anna on the alleged scams of this Trinamool Congress’s main interlocutor with him. 


As we go to press has come the scam related to the opinion polls exposed through a sting operation by an electronic media channel.  This has only reconfirmed the opinion we have repeated in these columns earlier that like there is paid news, there is also paid opinion polls.  This reflects the true character of the corporate media.  This sting operation has confirmed how the opinion polls are manipulated to mislead public opinion and undermine democracy. This, once again, underscores the need for far reaching deep reforms in our electoral process where such unethical practices that seek to unfairly and unduly influence public opinion and mislead them during the electoral process must be sternly dealt with. 


Extremely worried at such an agenda of alternative policies hijacking its hardcore Hindutva agenda, the RSS reportedly is preparing to `place’ around 2,000 of its hardcore cadres, who are “ideologically dedicated” and “sound”  in the BJP.  What is in store for India and its people, in the case of such an eventuality of the RSS/BJP triumphing in 2014 elections, thus, is both the sharpening of communal polarisation and the heaping of economic miseries on the vast mass of our people. 


Recently, the Rajya Sabha was informed that nearly Rs 6 lakh crores was the tax foregone, mainly from corporate and income tax, in the calendar year 2013.  Such voluntary non-collection of taxes in 2013 come on the top of similar humongous amounts of tax foregone in the last few successive years. These are nothing but straight forward subsidies for the rich. Such subsidies for the rich, we are told, are given as `incentives’ for growth. At the same time, even the meager subsidies for the poor are declared as an unbearable burden on our economy! Despite such tax concessions, our industrial and manufacturing growth has, at best, stagnated.  Instead of subsidising the rich thus, if these monies are used for public investments, then, we can have a much better `inclusive’ growth trajectory. We have repeatedly, in these columns, detailed such an alternative growth trajectory based on expanding India’s domestic demand. In such a growth trajectory lies the alternative policy direction.

(February 26, 2013)