Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Search of a People’s Alternative. -K.N.Ramachandran-

Kuldip  Nayar had concluded his article “Where is the vision?”(Mainstream, June 30) with these words: “The people’s dilemma is that both the national parties, the Congress and the BJP, riven as they are with groupism and ambitions, do not qualify to lead the nation. How I wish there were some party, even though small, that had the vision to retrieve the country and take it forward!” Expanding this idea, Bharat Dogra has also explained his vision of a Party “which will never sacrifice its basic principles” for immediate electoral gains, to take such an initiative. “It will prefer to sit in the opposition rather than sacrifice its principles”. He has concluded by saying that “the lead can be taken by some eminent persons in this direction” and that “the country really needs such an initiative”(Mainstream, July 19). Few months back Mainstream (12th November, 2011) had published An appeal by S.G. Vombatkere: “Urgent need for left unity and coordinated progressive action”. In response to Vombatkere’s appeal we had sent a response in which it was pointed out that as the so-called left parties are themselves having basic differences on the vision to lead the country forward, it is better to go for a unity of left and democratic forces based on a program for People’s Alternative to the present ruling system. As we had apprehended, nothing happened after that, in spite of some efforts by him to contact those parties which were in his list. Recently some of the members of Team Anna also had expressed the view that,  neither Congress, nor BJP, nor any of the present ruling parties can put forward a people’s alternative, and efforts should be made to build a genuine alternative so that systemic changes can be materialized by effectively intervening in 2014 general elections. When asked whether it will take initiative for this, the reply was an emphatic ‘no’. They hoped that some new force will emerge to satisfy the need for a People’s Alternative.
So, even though a large number of politically active individuals and groups, besides vast majority of the masses, who are suffering from acute pauperization and ever increasing miseries after six decades of so-called independence, are seeking a people’s alternative, no such efforts have materialized so far or possibilities for such an alternative with countrywide influence have not emerged so far.  During the last decades when CPI(M) led Left Front came to power for continuous 34 years in Bengal, for many years in Kerala and for long periods in Tripura, there was expectation among many that this opportunity will be utilized by it for putting in to practice an alternative to the reactionary ruling system. But as proved now, instead of going for alternate policies, it basically pursued the very same policies of the central government. The  Left Front government soon got degenerated and became corrupt like any other state government pursuing the neo-liberal policies, with disastrous effects to the people. The pity is that in spite of the electoral debacle in 2011 elections, its leadership does not see anything wrong in what they were doing. If it returns to power it is going to repeat what it was doing. Its government in Tripura is justifying the deployment of army and imposition of AFSPA still! Its two sections in Kerala are quarrelling  not for an alternative policy perspective, but merely a quarrel for leadership.
 If the CPI(M) has degenerated to opportunism in this manner, on the other side, the Maoists, pursuing anarchist practice  through the few squads they have in Chathisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha are in effect used  as a cover by the central and state forces to shoot down the adivasis indiscriminately and to put down all mass movements coming up in different states. Chidambaram found Maoist hand even behind the workers struggle in Gurgaon. Again, if one goes in search of individuals as an alternative, it will only lead us only to benevolent dictators.  What is required is a People’s Alternative, a platform of like minded left, democratic, dalit and adivasi forces, based on a program of systemic change and social justice; a program which rejects the imperialist dictated development policy which pauperizes vast masses and devastate the country, and instead puts forward a people oriented and sustainable development policy, rejecting consumerism and capitalist lust.
It is in this context, the efforts made by the CPI(ML) in this direction should be seen. At a time when even many of the so-called left parties and groups have either become apologists of neo-liberal policies, or seeking electoral understanding with parties representing the interests of elite classes, or refuse to go for any electoral fronts, the CPI(ML) has succeeded to launch a Democratic People’s Forum based on a ten-point program in which a number of organizations, mostly having state level presence, are already brought together. A countrywide initiative is launched to bring together dalit, adivasi, peasant organizations active in different states also in this platform.
The ten-point program put forward by the DPF includes:
1.Reject imperialist globalization and neo-liberal policies; Oppose imperialist domination through IMF-World Bank- WTO and MNCs.
2. Defend existing Constitutional, democratic and secular rights and fight for their expansion. Judiciary should function within the Constitutional framework, not under neo-liberal framework.
3. Make all out efforts to end corruption in all fields; Confiscate black money deposited in foreign banks.
4. Fight against all displacements for neo-liberal projects. Confiscate all land from mafias, big landlords etc. Implement land reforms based on land to the tiller.
5. Fight price rise. Struggle for universal public distribution system. Ensure education, healthcare, housing and employment for all.
6. Struggle for need based wages, job security and democratic rights of working class. Stop contract and casual, contract labor system.
7. Ensure adivasis’ right over their land and natural resources. Ensure Sixth Schedule in adivasi areas. Organize dalits, adivasis and minorities to resist casteist and communal oppression.  Struggle for casteless and secular society.
8. Fight all forms of gender discrimination. Ensure women’s equality in all fields.
9. Scrap AFSPA, UAPA and all other black laws. Withdraw military from J&K and Northeast. Fight state terror.
10. Fight imperialist promoted ‘development’ policies which devastate nature and pauperize the masses; implement people oriented and sustainable development policy.

This DPF program can be taken as a basis for further discussions and expansion including issues like the foreign policy perceptive also. In the present situation, the imperialist forces, especially US imperialism, are engaged in all forms of neo-colonial policies to transfer the burden of the ever intensifying crisis faced by the international finance capital system to the backs of the people of the vast number of undeveloped countries. For this purpose they use the  IMF-World Bank- WTO trio and other imperialist agencies and MNCs. These countries are prevented from pursuing an independent self-reliant development policy. These countries are attacked and controlled to loot their natural resources, especially petroleum, as in the case of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya under various pretexts or are threatened with aggression as in the case of Iran and Syria. In this situation, we are of the view that the so-called strategic agreements with US should be thrown out and the Indian government should ceaselessly try for uniting the undeveloped countries for their independence and sovereignty. India should try for transforming the United Nations in to a platform for struggle against hegemonic forces and for disarmament and world peace. As a part of this internationalist perspective, India should strive for peaceful political settlement of all disputes with countries in the neighborhood and, based on the principle of equality, try for a confederation of the South Asian countries.

Today, the UPA government is pursuing a nuclear policy which will have dangerous consequences. Already the so-called development policy imposed under imperialist dictates have devastated the environment to a great extent all over the world and creating violent changes in the climate including ‘global warming’. Instead of struggling against this, the UPA government is going for a number of nuclear plants in different parts of the country, when after Fukushima meltdown all the developed countries including Japan, France, Germany  are de-commissioning their nuclear plants. It is in spite of the fact that nuclear technology, including the question of nuclear waste disposal is still in an infant stage and nuclear power is the costliest. So it will be a significant step forward if the program includes a call for an end to nuclear arms, to nuclear plants and to Uranium mining. We should call for developing renewable energy and for rational use of energy.

Mobilizing the genuinely left, democratic, dalit, adivasi and other progressive forces based on such a programmatic approach as a People’s Alternative against the Congress, BJP and all other parties sharing power today at centre and in the states will be a historic step forward. There should be a bold effort for it. CPI (ML) is prepared to play any role required in order to realize such an alternative which shall strive for fulfilling the dreams of the millions who fought for the independence of the country.