From A World to Win News Service

The Indian Elections and the Prospects for Revolution

Revolutionary Worker #1243, June 13, 2004, posted at

We received the following article from A World to Win News Service about the elections which took place in early May in India.

May 31, 2004. A World to Win News Service . (By a South Asian correspondent.)India, one- sixth of the world's population, had been busy with parliamentary elections for several months. Also some of the assembly (state) elections scheduled at the same time had drawn people's attention further towards the electoral process. But the outcome was quite unexpected. Not only the losers but the winners too were dumbfounded. It is obvious that no matter who ascends to office under this system, no real changes will take place in people's favor. But the result of these elections has revealed many things that are very important for the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist forces in India as they sketch out the future course of their revolutionary practice.

Firstly, the results show that people in India hate and are opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) communal (Hindu chauvinist) fascism. Led by defeated Prime Minister Atal Behar Vajpayee, the BJP had been most associated with attempts to whip up hysteria and mob attacks against Muslims and other minorities in India. Their attempt to dupe people with hollow phrases like "Feel Good Factor" and "India Shining" basically failed. These slogans proved to mean nothing to the masses who live miserable lives of poverty, deprivation and oppression under the crushing weight of feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, represented by the BJP and its allies. It should be noted that the votes other parties collected were not because of any pro-people policies on their part. In fact, they benefited because people felt they were discarding the worst.

The other trend noticeable in this election is that with some exceptions, candidates holding big ministerial posts in the central and state governments were defeated irrespective of the party they represented. This includes the Congress Party, which while winning overall suffered defeats in areas where it was in power. This shows the people are frustrated not only with the parties but also the system they are confronting.

Secondly, the election result signifies that Indian masses are consciously opposed to those parties that have most openly flouted their role as stooges of imperialism, mainly US imperialism, and its policies such as privatization, globalization, economic liberalization, etc. In the assembly election in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, the humiliating defeat of the Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu's party, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), signifies new heights in people's hatred for imperialism and its policies that have severely victimized the urban working poor and the peasants. In this sense, TDP's defeat in Andhra Pradesh is also the failure of imperialist policies and the system itself. It is noteworthy that Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, had been chosen by Bill Gates, the president of the U.S. software giant Microsoft, as one of its main international centers. Naidu had been the champion of the policy of encouraging imperialist development in isolated pockets of the state while the majority of the population sunk deeper into poverty. Naidu also led efforts to try to crush the revolutionary struggle in the rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (People's War).

Thirdly, another important point to note in this election is the very low turnout, only 50%. Mainly three factors can be assumed to be responsible for this. The first is the frustration of the conscious urban petty-bourgeois masses with the electoral fray. This section of the people showed no interest in this election and boycotted it consciously but in an unorganized way. The second factor was the relatively conscious and organized election boycott following the call of revolutionary parties like CPI(ML)(PW), Maoist Communist Centre (India), Communist Party of India (Marxist- Leninist) (Naxalbari) and other communist forces, as well as militant nationalist forces in Kashmir and the North East region of India. In Kashmir, the total turnout was only 15%. In a number of states, the Indian government used the elections to launch attacks on revolutionary forces. In Andhra Pradesh, five air force helicopters were dispatched to try to terrorise the masses and attack fighters led by the communist revolutionaries. The third factor was the organized boycott in some of the constituencies, even if it was on the basis of a low level of consciousness, where people boycotted this election en masse with the complaint that no candidate had fulfilled his/her promises made in previous election campaigns.

Whatever the factors behind this election, as a result one reactionary government alliance has been replaced by another one. The new governing Progressive Secular Alliance is led by the Congress Party, the traditional pillar of the Indian ruling class since independence in 1947. In this situation it would be wrong to expect positive changes in favor of the people's interests. But there are grounds to believe that U.S. hegemony over India is likely to be shaken by the rise of the alliance under Congress leadership. Historically Congress had close political, economic and military ties with the U.S.'s chief rival, the ex-USSR, as well as warming up to the European Union. Yet we cannot forget that under Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress Party presided over the "realignment" of India in line with the new inter- national realities after the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the U.S. to undisputed world hegemony. The rejection of the openly pro-U.S. BJP by the voters and the increasing conflict within Indian ruling circles is likely to create more favorable conditions for anti-U.S. struggle in India and internationally.

The present situation of a hung parliament in India will make the coalition government comparatively weak. The two largest revisionist parties in the Alliance, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), both made significant electoral gains. They are supporting the new Congress-led government while at the same time refusing to participate in it for fear that would lead to even more exposure of their anti-people character.

Most importantly, people's frustration towards this system, the conscious and unconscious boycott of the elections mainly on the part of the urban petty-bourgeoisie and the rising tide of discontent of the masses against this system have created a very positive situation for the revolutionaries in India. This situation further shows the possibilities of uniting various sections of the Indian masses in a powerful people's war. In this sense, the elections present a challenge to Indian revolutionaries to further develop a correct ideological and political line that can bring together the vast masses, thirsty for revolutionary change, within the fold of a revolutionary united front. The ongoing struggle of the Maoist parties to build up a single Maoist vanguard in India firmly based on a correct ideological and political line will definitely address these issues and develop a correct line for leading the broad Indian masses under proletarian leadership

The Indian ruling class has tried to isolate and attack the communist revolutionaries by calling them "terrorists" despite the support these forces have among millions of people. The U.S. State Department recently added the MCC(I), a participating party in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, and the CPI(ML) (PW) to one of its lists of "terrorist" organizations. This points to the real fears of the reactionaries that the genuine communist revolutionaries in India are attracting and leading wide sections of the people. It also shows the danger that U.S. imperialism will step up its assistance to the counter-revolutionary terror of the Indian ruling classes.