Democracy For Whom?

Electoral Democracy and Constitution

M S Krishnan

Electoral democracy is the only formal aspect that survives in India. Paradoxically, while electoral parties are  key to that, and are the staple food for the media, they are not even once mentioned in India's Constitution.

D K Barooah, the Congress President during Indira's rule gave the slogan Indira is India, during emergency, then opposed by Sangh parivar too. Now the trend is Modi is India; A cartoonist was arrested for his work on Modi. Forget not, this is undeclared emergency. Top editors had been replaced for criticising Modi. Even State and city elections are held in his name.

Out of 539 MPs, there are 475 Crorepathies, meaning 88% crorepathies, as declared by them. Many of them are in fact worth Rs100 cr or more. Out of 539 MPs, 233 declared Criminal cases against them. Hence 43% have Criminal antecedents.

Rs 60,000 cr was spent by various parties, 45% of that by BJP alone, and at a rate of Rs 100 crore (Rs 1000 million) per each Loksabha seat, during the costliest-ever, 2019 Loksabha elections. As per a report by CMS, Rs 12 to 15,000 cr out of that was given to voters directly to buy votes. It was double the 2014 expenditure of Rs 30000 cr, as per its estimates.

It is a fact that India has a few dynasties ruling various states and the centre too, not to speak of at lower levels. "34 most powerful" such families were listed by the March 8, 2019.

Almost all regional parties, including those from JK and northeast, (like DMK, ADMK, PMK, TDP, YSR, TRS, BJD, LJP, RJD, SP, SAD, JKNC, JKPDP, JDU, JDS, RLD, INLD) those are explicitly so.  25% of MPs hailed from dynastic background. With scores of dynasties ruling India, it is a feudal democracy.

BJP and Modi harp on this citing Gandhi-Nehru dynasty Vs. Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Modi at the top. It covers up ground realities: In 1999, Congress had 36 dynastic MPs elected, BJP had 31 from dynasties. In 2009, Congress had 11% MPs from Dynasties and BJP had 12% MPs from dynasties.

In U.P, of the 51 political dynasties—17 belonged to BJP, 15 belonged to Congress, 4 of BSP, besides that of Mulayam Yadav and others.

(From 1952, the bio-data of 4807 Parliamentarians were analysed. India Spend analysed data compiled by researchers of Harvard University and University of Mannheim, Germany. The above are among facts cited there.)

BJP has its own political Houses of Scindias, Mahajans, Mundes etc. Most of the BJP CMs, Deputy CMs and Ministers have their Political SuccessoRs BJP and Modi's Cabinets have been full of Dynastic Leaders like: Jasant singh, Piyush Goel, Ravishankar Prasad, Maneka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi, Najma heptullah, Kiran Rijiju, Jayant Sinha, Dharmendra Pradhan are only some examples.

BJP's allies are full of political dynasties. Like Badals in Punjab, Thackreys in Maharashtra, Mufti's family in Kashmir etc. (now these alliances are broken), Paswans in Bihar, Nitish Kumar's family in Bihar, Lalbahadur's in UP… So who is not a Dynast?

D V Rao wrote about role of class, money, caste, liquor and media in elections, all more glaring than ever today.

All the leading newspapers are owned by the monopoly capitalists. They serve the parties of the ruling classes. (They are partners manipulating India's democracy.)

The landlords, who are economically the strongest class in the rural areas, are making common people subservient through land relations, money and grain lending. They are able to purchase influential persons from among the people, and securing votes through them. The same situation exists in towns.

The candidates are spending lakhs and crores of rupees in every general election. Thus, it is the rich who are able to contest the elections. Though a part of the amount is spent for election propaganda, the major amount is spent for purchasing the votes and the influential persons among the people.

The caste system is rooted in the towns, as well as in the villages. Every caste has its own rich strata. The common people belonging to each caste are linked with the rich in so many forms. They are connected with the amount spent in the name of development (of hostels, co-operatives etc.) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. They have a major share in the amount. Thus, they develop vested interests with the ruling classes for whom they secure votes and whom they serve.

Basing on the directives of British imperialism, the Constitution provides separate representation to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. They have their own share of representatives in the Parliament, the Legislatures, and the Panchayat Boards and even in the Services.

All these facilities are being enjoyed by the upper strata of these sections. Instead of abolishing the caste system by the abolition of landlordism, by the distribution of land to the landless, and developing them into economically independent people, the Constitution strengthens the caste system in the name of special facilities. Thus, the caste system is serving the ruling classes even in the elections.

Though the political parties are formally publishing their programmes, and to some extent, they are carrying on propaganda, the people are not voting in accordance with the programmes. On many occasions, the candidates especially the ruling party candidates are winning without any programmes and propaganda.

The people, instead of voting in accordance with the programme they choose, are voting according to the directives of the local landlords and heads of the village and castes. The same situation exists in the towns, where influential individuals and reformist trade union leaders having links with the rich are helping them. The Municipal administration is also contributing to such a situation.

Rural voters are playing a decisive role in providing a majority to the ruling parties, as the overwhelming majority of the voters live in the villages. As they are under the domination of landlords, it is the class of landlords that is playing the decisive role. The main reason for getting a sweeping majority by the ruling Congress is the support of the landlords in the recent mid-term elections (1969). It supported the Congress, because it thought that the Congress(R) alone is able to save it from being swept away in the flow of the agrarian revolution.

In addition to the Congress, all other parties won majority in the various constituencies, with the help of the landlords residing in the area. There are no political parties, which can mobilise voters without relying on one or the other section of landlords in a village. Those landlords, who are not with the ruling party for various reasons, are with other parties of their convenience.

People do not discuss political, economic and social problems facing the country during elections, nor are the political parties creating an interest in it through their propaganda. People themselves are not serious about elections. Casting a vote has become a ritual for them. (All this is more glaring today than ever with media's role and paid news phenomenon.)

They are participating in the elections because the political parties, groups and individuals want them to do so. The parties are deceiving them, saying that their problems are solved by casting a vote. Thus, they divert the people from revolutionary activities. Those without consciousness are voting, because their 'elders' are directing them to vote. Their voting has no relation to their issues, either political or economic.

There is no system of proportional representation which is in vogue in some of the capitalist countries. According to this, political parties can secure seats in Parliament and the Assemblies, in proportion to the votes they poll. The present system does not permit this. In a constituency, if a candidate gets one vote less than those of his rival, he not only loses his seat but his votes as well. This is an anti-democratic practice, with the help of which the Congress has been in power for the last 25 years, always as a minority party, polling less than 50 percent*1 votes. It had an unprecedented majority during the recent mid-term elections with only 43.64 per cent of votes polled.

(The winning party never polled 50% plus vote in the last 70 years Thus it is always a minority that ruled.)

(In 2014, Modi-led BJP got 31.4 percent of polled vote, the lowest ever by a winning party in India. It is less than what Indira-led " routed" post-Emergency Congress got in 1977, 34.5 percent. BJP that got 37.4 % of polled votes in 2019 claims a massive and "record mandate.)

Violence is on the increase during elections. All those, propertied or otherwise, who stand against the dominant sections of landlords, are the victims of their violence.

Thus, the elections, as provided in the Constitution are meant to endorse the rule of the big bourgeoisie and the landlords once in every five years…

In spite of having adult franchise, the election results always go in favour of big corporate houses and landlords. The members of Parliament, the Legislative Assembly and the Panchayat Boards belong to those classes, and some are elected with their help. The intellectuals amongst them are not above these classes. They are highly influenced by the political and economic theories of the imperialist countries. They want the government to follow policies in favour of one or the other imperialist power.

The Parliament contains the representatives of big capitalists and landlords, the Legislative Assemblies are full of landlords, while the Panchayat Board institutions remain their pocket organisations. The so-called opposition parties, which claim to be either democratic or leftist, are neither representing democratic nor the leftist movement. They can neither openly support, nor oppose the ruling classes. They while away their time with spurious criticisms.

A situation has already developed, wherein it can be said that there is no difference of a considerable nature, between the ruling party and the opposition.

(It is more evident than ever-more so after 1990s reforms—that all parties including the left are basically one in implementing the LPG policies dictated by IMF, imperialists and their capital.)

The Rajya Sabha, the Legislative Councils, the Panchayat Samithies and the Zilla Parishads are formed by indirect elections, though with an element of proportional representation (single transferable vote). Those defeated in the elections, in spite of spending huge amounts of money, and the favourites of the ruling classes fill the seats of the upper Houses. While the members are paid honorariums, the Houses are used to delay the legislative process. When the ruling party is in the grip of a crisis, its majority in the upper Houses is used to come out of the crisis. They serve no useful purpose. On the other hand, they have a reactionary role to play in all countries. India is no exception.

All this shows that in addition to the Indian Constitution, the Parliament and the Legislatures, which are meant for legislation in accordance with the former, are the centres for the representatives of the big bourgeoisie and landlordism. People cannot expect any useful legislation for the common man from these institutions.

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Vol. 53, No. 37, Mar 14 - 20, 2021