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Election Manifesto
Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation)

Dear Citizens,
In the golden jubilee year of our national independence you are now called upon to elect the 12th Lok Sabha. This is not the first time that a government has failed to survive its full five-year term and the country is having to face a mid-term poll. But with the fortunes of the Congress dwindling like the value of the rupee, this is the first time that the BJP is trying to usurp power with the promise of providing a stable government. What does it mean for the basic rights and interests of all of us? What does it hold in store for the future of whatever remains of our parliamentary democracy and secular republic?

The Footsteps of Communal Fascism...

Let us look at the following pointers. l During its first stint in power in Uttar Pradesh, the saffron brigade organised the demolition of the Babri Masjid and now it is training its sights on Kashi and Mathura. In one single stroke of shameless opportunism it has managed to catapult almost all the dangerous dons from the world of crime in Uttar Pradesh into the state cabinet. Once again attempts are on to saffronise the entire education system in the state. l In Maharashtra, the other model of saffron rule, a dozen dalits were gunned down by the police for protesting against desecration of an Ambedkar statue while the noted trade union leader Datta Samant had to lose his life for daring to oppose the official design of deindustrialisation in Mumbai. l In Bihar, where the BJP has so far only managed to secure the status of the main opposition party, it is backing the Ranvir Sena to the hilt even as the Sena wages an open war of extermination on the oppressed rural poor. If these indications are anything to go by, is it not clear that we are only listening to the footsteps of fascism? Imposing a fascist communal rule on the people of India, this is the only meaning that can be made out of the BJP’s promise of a stable government and able leadership.

Behind the Corporate Clamour for Stability...

Why indeed are the MNCs and Indian big business so much concerned about stability? The experience of the last twenty months of United Front government has clearly revealed that the economic policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation are pretty stable even as instability reigns supreme in the corridors of power. Only the other day, leaders of the Congress, BJP and the United Front could be heard reiterating for the umpteenth time their commitment to the neo-liberal economic package of the IMF, World Bank and WTO from the platform of the CII-sponsored Partnership Summit in Chennai. Ironically, the Thai leader who was present as the chief guest was pleading for caution with his Indian counterparts. The record fall in the value of the Thai currency as well as in almost all other East Asian currencies has left the so-called East Asian Tigers in very bad shape. The currency crisis has now reached India with the rupee touching new lows with every passing day. Yet ruling parties in all the three contending camps in India continue to worship the false god of globalisation. If in spite of this stable consensus among ruling parties on the economic front, imperialist powers and Indian big houses are all crying for stability, the reason is not difficult to understand. They are afraid that a weak and unstable government at the centre may have to go slow and even buckle under popular pressure. A strong and stable government, on the other hand, can enforce the package on a bigger and more sweeping scale. More importantly, such a government can be expected to come down heavily on every growing expression of popular resentment and resistance. This is the real meaning of stability in today’s context. But since elections these days are producing fractured mandates and hung houses, stability calls for giving a short shrift to the electorate and effectively throttling and bypassing the institutions of parliamentary democracy. Hence Vajpayee’s promise to reform the polity and move towards the presidential system. In short, the BJP today represents an unprecedented threat to both secularism and democracy. In the guise of cultural nationalism and stable government it is systematically seeking to destroy our composite culture and anti-imperialist legacy and transform India into a fascist Hindu Rashtra. By unleashing the forces of medieval barbarity, communal aggression and venal mafiadom, it wants to exterminate the very vision of a modern secular democratic India, a people’s India of the 21st century.

Beyond the Collapsing Congress and Bankrupt UF...

How do we face this danger? History has exploded the myth that the country can remain safe in the custody of the Congress. The policies of the Congress have in the first place been largely responsible for the rise of the saffron brigade. And today, the Congress is perhaps facing its terminal crisis as Congress leaders at different levels compete among themselves to leave the sinking ship and book their place in the BJP sun.
Large sections of the United Front however wanted us to believe that it is not necessary to face the saffron danger head-on. They wanted us to believe that with support from the Congress, saffron forces could be indefinitely held at bay. Today this theory has obviously reached a dead end. In both Orissa and Karnataka, the two states where the Janata Dal had relatively strong bases outside Bihar, the Dal has suffered splits and former forces of the JD are among the staunchest allies of the saffron establishment.
The two older communist parties of our country, the CPI and CPI(M), have also been guilty of this opportunist and suicidal line of thinking. The United Front government, they have all along told us, is the best bet, the most effective safeguard against the BJP’s aggressive ascendance. The BJP’s alliance with the BSP in UP and with the Samata Party in Bihar came as the first cruel exposure of the limits of the so-called dalit-backward axis. Now the myth of southern regionalism standing as an insurmountable wall before the saffron advance has also begun to explode as regional parties like AIADMK and TDP(NTR) are embracing the once untouchable party of the North.
While the non-Left and regional parties’ rejection of the saffron camp has thus proved to be shallow and transient, illusions about the durability and invincibility of the UF have taken a heavy toll of the Left’s own fighting capacity and readiness. By becoming an integral part of the United Front, the old communist parties and their Left Front partners have only managed to damage their own credibility and leave their own fighting ranks disorganised and unprepared. The common minimum programme of the UF was itself basically a charter of betrayal as it accommodated the whole thrust of the anti-people pro-imperialist economic policy and then whatever positive promises were there in the programme were all left out in the course of implementation.
And the biggest blow of course came from the direct participation by a section of the Left in such a government and the consequent blurring of the essential demarcation between the Left movement and a bourgeois government. Unfortunately, instead of drawing appropriate lessons from this disastrous experience, parties of the Left Front seem to have derived the wrong lesson with the CPI(M) too looking eager to remedy what Jyoti Basu had called a historic blunder - viz., the party’s refusal to allow the longest serving Bengal chief minister to become the UF’s prime minister.

Taking the BJP Bull by Its Horns...

The history of the 20th Century has repeatedly demonstrated the fact that the fascist bull must be taken by its horns. Parliamentary vacillation and opportunism only helps strengthen and embolden fascist forces who can only be defeated by waging a powerful Left resistance, through united and determined mass action of the working people. The history of popular Left, democratic and revolutionary movement in our own country is also a living testimony to this fact.
Seven years of new economic policy have pushed the country to the brink of economic disaster. The rupee’s value in the world market has dropped to forty rupees a dollar and a kg of onion costs a whopping twenty rupees. Recession and not boom has been the general experience on the industrial front and now the crisis has begun to engulf the hitherto relatively insulated agricultural arena as well. Cotton growers are committing suicide en masse in Andhra Pradesh and in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, small farmers demanding compensation for damaged crops are simply being gunned down by the killers in uniform. For agricultural labourers, poor peasants, unorganised workers and the unemployed, for the overwhelming majority of dalits, adivasis, women and other oppressed people, it is indeed a grim battle for survival and basic human dignity. And the enemies of social progress, the agents of reaction, are exacting a heavy price from the forces engaged in this glorious struggle for social transformation. From Bathanitola to Bathe, from Datta Samant to Chandrashekhar, the voice of protest and resistance is being sought to be gagged through sheer terror.
Yet the march for justice is on. And it is gaining in strength and momentum. For the last thirty years, the CPI(ML) has been the most consistent and determined force behind this advancing caravan of the people. From Charu Mazumdar to Chandrashekhar, we are proud of the inspiring legacy of our martyrs. As the country goes to the polls in the fiftieth year of its beleaguered freedom, we rededicate ourselves to the vision of a new people’s India of the 21st Century, to the cause of radical social transformation, real independence and power to the people.

Our Election Charter: Building Left Resistance

Uncompromising struggle for this goal is our only promise to the electorate of India. The twenty-point charter given below sets the minimum agenda to which every CPI(ML) member will remain committed in struggle whether inside Parliament or outside on the street.

1. Abolition of the mandatory requirement of sanction from Governors and the President for prosecuting Chief Ministers and Union Cabinet Ministers in corruption cases

2. Construction of a national monument commemorating the united anti-imperialist legacy of the 1857 First War of Independence on the demolished Babri Masjid site at Ayodhya

3. Mandatory suspension of DM/DC and SP in the event of the concerned district witnessing a communal carnage or a massacre perpetrated by landlords’ private armies

4. Compulsory institution of judicial enquiry into every incident of communal carnage, massacre of oppressed rural poor, indiscriminate police-firing or fake encounter

5. Granting of special arms licenses to dalit and adivasi masses to enable them to organise self-defence against social oppression

6. Debarring of noted criminals and history sheeters from contesting elections

7. Mandatory resignation from Assembly/Lok Sabha seat by every elected representative who chooses to defect from the party on whose ticket he/she had won the election

8. Granting of separate statehood to Jharkhand and Uttarakhand and effective regional autonomy to tribal areas; formation of a second States Reorganisation Commission to consider the statehood demands being raised elsewhere in the country

9. Scrapping of the Disinvestment Commission and reversal of the policies of privatisation and liquidation of the public sector

10. Halting of any further privatisation of banking or opening up of the insurance sector and stopping the liberalisation and globalisation of the highly sensitive financial sector

11. Scrapping of the Companies Bill 1997 and Sick Industries Bill 1997 to prevent indiscriminate closure of industries and takeover of Indian companies by foreign MNCs

12. Inclusion of farm income within the purview of income tax

13. Enactment of a comprehensive central legislation to improve the conditions of agricultural labourers

14. Treatment of every violation of Minimum Wages and Child and Contract Labour Acts as a cognisable criminal offence

15. Extension and strengthening of the public distribution system to guarantee the basic livelihood requirements of the rural and urban poor

16. Reservation of 33% seats for women in Parliament and State Assemblies

17. Exemplary punishment upto life imprisonment and capital punishment for rape

18. Incorporation of the right to work as a fundamental right in the Constitution and provision of a minimum monthly unemployment allowance of Rs. 500 for every registered unemployed person

19. Halting of mega-projects resulting in enormous environmental damage and human misery and guarantee of adequate rehabilitation for every displaced person

20. Improvement of bilateral ties with neighbouring countries and formation of a confederation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as a step towards undoing the disastrous legacy of Partition

We are aware of the enormity of the challenge. This is why we are also prepared to unite to the extent possible with all other positive forces. In this election we are putting up some forty candidates in eleven states, the maximum being in Bihar. In Assam, we are contesting in close alliance with the fighting forces of the tribal autonomy movement like the ASDC under the banner of Assam People’s Front. And wherever we are not contesting ourselves we will extend moral support to other Left candidates and partners of the United Front against the alliances led by the BJP and Congress(I).

  • Resist the Forces of communal Aggression, Medieval Barbarity and Corrupt Mafiadom - March with CPI(ML) for a Modern democratic India of the 21st Century!
  • Save the Country from Imperialist Loot and Plunder - Rally with CPI(ML) in the Second War of Independence!
  • Foil the BJP’s Design of Imposing Fascism in the Guise of Stability - Vote CPI(ML) for a Powerful Left Resistance!

Home > Liberation Main Page > Index Page February 1998 > ARTICLE