State Structure & Democracy

5.1 The present Indian State is the organ of the class rule of the bourgeoisie and landlords led by the big bourgeoisie, who are increasingly collaborating with foreign finance capital in pursuit of the capitalist path of development. This class character essentially determines the role and function of State in the life of the country.

5.2 Although the State structure is federal in name, most powers and resources are concentrated in the hands of the Central government. Though the big bourgeoisie initially resisted the demand for formation of states on the basis of commonality of language, the intense pressure of mass movements and agitations compelled it to agree to the formation of linguistic states. A fresh attack on the principle of linguistic states was mounted by the BJP-led government, which advocates smaller states based on administrative convenience. This will further weaken the federal structure. The repeated use by the Centre of the inherently anti-democratic provisions of Article 356 of the Constitution to dismiss elected state governments and dissolve the elected state assemblies has been a major instrument for subverting the federal system and attacking the autonomy of states. The constituent states enjoy little power, which makes them dependent on the Central government, restricting their development.

5.3 It is natural that in such a situation, the contradictions between the central government and the states have grown. Underlying these contradictions often lies the deeper contradiction between the big bourgeoisie on the one hand and the majority of the people including the bourgeoisie and landlords of this or that state on the other. This contradiction gets constantly aggravated due to the accentuation of uneven economic development under capitalism. A political manifestation of this is the emergence of regional political parties, which reflect the linguistic-nationality sentiments of the people of these states and generally represent the bourgeois-landlord classes of the region.

5.4 The problems of national unity have been aggravated due to the bourgeois-landlord policies pursued after independence. The north eastern region of the country which is home to a large number of minority nationalities and ethnic groups has suffered the most from the uneven development and regional imbalances fostered by capitalist development. This has provided fertile ground for the growth of extremist elements who advocate separatism and are utilised by imperialist agencies. The violent activities of the extremists and the ethnic strife hamper developmental work and democratic activities.

5.5 Jammu and Kashmir was provided with a special status and autonomy under article 370 of the constitution. Over the decades the provisions for autonomy were drastically curtailed and the alienation of the people in the state grew. This has been utilised by the separatist forces who are backed by Pakistan. Imperialism headed by the USA, uses this dispute to pressurise India and increase its intervention in the region. The problems of the North eastern region as also Kashmir, exemplify the failure of the bourgeois-landlord classes to address the vital issue of national unity in a democratic manner.

5.6 The Adivasi and tribal people who constitute seven crores of the population, are victims of brutal capitalist and semi-feudal exploitation. Their lands are alienated from them, the right to forests denied and they are a source of cheap and bonded labour for the contractors and landlords. In some states there are compact areas inhabited by tribal people who have their own distinct languages and culture. The tribal people have been roused to new consciousness to defend their rights for advancement while preserving their identity and culture. Due to the threat to their identity and very existence and the callous policies of the bourgeois-landlord rulers, separatist tendencies have grown among some sections of the tribal people. Regional autonomy for protecting their rights in the areas which are contiguous and where they are in a majority is a democratic and just demand. The capitalist-landlord-contractor nexus constantly seeks to disrupt their traditional solidarity with some concessions to their leadership, denies their legitimate rights and suppresses them with brutal force.

5.7 The secular principle is enshrined in the Constitution and the values of secular democracy are proclaimed by the big bourgeois leadership of the State. However, the practice of secularism by the bourgeoisie has been flawed. They try to distort the whole concept of secularism. They would have the people believe that instead of complete separation of religion and politics, secularism means freedom for all religious faiths to equally interfere in the affairs of the State and political life. Instead of firmly combating the anti-secular trends, the bourgeoisie often gives concessions and strengthens them. The threat to the secular foundations has become menacing with the rise of the communal and fascistic RSS-led combine and its assuming power at the Centre. Systematic efforts are on to communalise the institutions of the State, the administration, the educational system and the media. The growth of majority communalism will strengthen the forces of minority communalism and endanger national unity. The support of sections of the big bourgeoisie for the BJP and its communal platform is fraught with serious consequences for democracy and secularism in the country.

5.8 Our Party is, therefore, committed to wage an uncompromising struggle for the consistent implementation of the principles of secularism. Even the slightest departure from that principle should be exposed and fought. While defending the right of every religious community — whether it is the majority or the minorities — as well as those who have no faith in any religion to believe in and practice any religion or none at all, the Party should fight against all forms of intrusion of religion in the economic, political and administrative life of the nation and uphold secular and democratic values in culture, education and society. The danger of fascist trends gaining ground, based on religious communalism must be firmly fought at all levels.

5.9 In conditions of capitalist exploitation the guaranteed rights to the minorities provided in the Constitution are also not implemented. There is the lack of equal opportunities and discrimination against the Muslim minorities both in the economic and social sphere. Communal riots and violent attacks against the Muslims have become a permanent feature. The RSS and its outfits constantly instigate hatred against the minorities and they target the Christian community also. This fosters alienation and insecurity among the minorities, which breeds fundamentalist trends and weakens the secular foundations. Minority communalism isolates the minorities and hampers the common movement of all oppressed sections. Defence of minority rights is a crucial aspect of the struggle to strengthen democracy and secularism.

5.10 The bourgeois-landlord system has also failed to put an end to caste oppression. The worst sufferers are the scheduled castes. The dalits are subject to untouchability and other forms of discrimination despite these being declared unlawful. The growing consciousness among the dalits for emancipation is sought to be met with brutal oppression and atrocities. The assertion by the dalits has a democratic content reflecting the aspirations of the most oppressed sections of society. The backward castes have also asserted their rights in a caste-ridden society.

5.11 At the same time a purely caste appeal which seeks to perpetuate caste divisions for the narrow aim of consolidating vote banks and detaching these downtrodden sections from the common democratic movement has also been at work. Many caste leaders and certain leaders of bourgeois political parties seek to utilise the polarisation on caste lines for narrow electoral gains and are hostile to building up the common movement of the oppressed sections of all castes. They ignore the basic class issues of land, wages and fight against landlordism, which is the basis for overthrowing the old social order.

5.12 The problem of caste oppression and discrimination has a long history and is deeply rooted in the pre-capitalist social system. The society under capitalist development has compromised with the existing caste system. The Indian bourgeoisie itself fosters caste prejudices. Working class unity presupposes unity against the caste system and the oppression of dalits, since the vast majority of the dalit population are part of the labouring classes. To fight for the abolition of the caste system and all forms of social oppression through a social reform movement is an important part of the democratic revolution. The fight against caste oppression is interlinked with the struggle against class exploitation.

5.13 With India’s independence the women of India, equal participants in the freedom struggle, had hoped for emancipation from the shackles of centuries old feudal and gender oppression. But leave alone advance, five decades of bourgeois-landlord rule have perpetuated patriarchy in every sphere. Women are exploited at different levels, as women, as workers and as citizens. The process of liberalisation has brought in its wake newer forms of gender exploitation, in both the economic and social spheres, leading to increased violence against women. Economic independence and an independent role in social and political life are basic conditions for the advance of women. Resistance against this unequal status and the women’s movement for equality are part of the movement for social emancipation.

5.14 Fifty years of bourgeois-landlord rule have corroded all the institutions of State power. The administrative system being based on a highly centralised bureaucracy reflecting the growth of capitalist development, power is concentrated at the top and exercised through privileged bureaucrats who are divorced from the masses and who obediently serve the interests of the exploiting classes. The enormous growth of the bureaucracy, its strong links with the ruling classes and the rampant corruption of the bureaucracy are factors weakening the democratic structure of society.

5.15 The judiciary is weighted against the workers, peasants and other sections of the working people. Though formally, both the rich and the poor are equal in principle, the system of justice in essence, serves the interests of the exploiting classes and upholds their class rule. Even the bourgeois democratic principle of separation of judiciary from the executive is not fully adhered to and the judiciary is subjected to the influence and control of the latter. Instances of judgements, which uphold democratic principles and fundamental rights under the Constitution, are subverted by the ruling classes. In the absence of any effective mechanism to ensure accountability of the judges, certain corrupt practices are also reported within sections of the judiciary which undermine the faith of the people.

5.16 The structure of the armed forces in independent India still bears the traces of the colonial legacy. While it is expected to defend the borders of the country, the ruling classes tend to rely more and more on the armed forces and the para-military forces when its class interests come into open conflict with the interests of the exploited masses. The soldiers in the armed forces hail from the peasantry and the working people and they have to perform arduous duties. The ruling classes keep the rank and file of these forces insulated from the people and deprived of democratic rights. The police forces are used as instruments of repression against popular movements. They have become prey to political manipulation and corruption and in many places are part of the exploitative mechanism against the poor.

5.17 The bourgeoisie and its landlord allies are a small minority in the whole country compared to the working class, the peasantry and the middle classes, over whom they rule and whom they exploit by virtue of their ownership of land, capital and all means of production. Capitalist State power and its governments even when elected by a majority vote in the parliamentary system of democracy, represent in their political and economic essence the power of the minority.

5.18 The Constitution of the Republic of India provides for a parliament elected on the basis of adult franchise and confers certain fundamental rights on the people. Many of these rights are misinterpreted, distorted and even violated by the authorities of the State. When it comes to the struggle of the workers, peasants and other sections of the democratic masses, the fundamental rights virtually cease to apply for them. Freedom of assembly is denied to whole areas and regions embracing lakhs of people by putting them under prohibitory orders even for months and years. The violence of the State organs becomes practically savage against the workers, peasants and other democratic masses, when they act in defence of their political and economic rights and demands. Draconian legislations providing for detention without trial have become quite common. Similarly, the provisions of national emergency provided for in the Constitution are misused and ordinances promulgated to suppress democratic struggles. The internal Emergency declared in 1975 was the most severe threat to democracy.

5.19 Under pressure of the democratic movement, the government was forced to legislate steps for decentralisation of administration to the panchayats and local bodies. The Left-led governments of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura took important steps to ensure decentralisation of powers and devolution of powers to the three-tier panchayat system. But except in the Left-led states, panchayati raj institutions are being used not to expand democracy but to perpetuate the power of landlords, moneylenders and contractors in the countryside.

5.20 The cultural development of the Indian people has been stunted by decades of bourgeois-landlord rule. Pernicious customs and values are perpetuated in the name of tradition and religion, which are degrading to women and the oppressed castes. What is progressive and healthy in the cultural heritage is sought to be denigrated by the communal ideologies. The bourgeois culture retains much of the obscurantist and casteist values. The State displays a callous disregard even for literacy, leave alone providing for the cultural well being of the people. Freedom of press, assembly and propaganda, is made full use of by exploiting classes and by imperialist agencies who dominate the print and electronic media, the radio and television networks. The working people cannot compete with their vast resources and are thus disabled in the exercise of these rights formally given to everyone.

5.21 The degeneration in the instruments of the bourgeois-landlord State has taken place in the background of the enormous growth of black money which has pervaded society and the phenomenal growth of corruption. The liberalisation process increased large-scale corruption at the highest levels. Holders of public office, top bureaucrats and bourgeois politicians are part of a corrupt nexus which subverts the law and facilitates loot of public funds. This makes a mockery of democracy and the rights of citizens. The enormous growth of money power in elections, the criminalisation of politics, rigging and capture of booths constitute a serious threat to the parliamentary democratic system.

5.22 However, universal adult franchise and parliament and state legislatures can serve as instruments of the people in their struggle for democracy, for defence of their interests. When there have been attacks on parliamentary democracy, such as the internal emergency, the people have opposed such authoritarian measures. Although a form of class rule of the bourgeoisie, India’s present parliamentary system also embodies an advance for the people. It affords certain opportunities for them to defend their interests, intervene in the affairs of the State to a certain extent and mobilise them to carry forward the struggle for democracy and social progress.

5.23 The threat to the parliamentary system and to democracy comes not from the working people and the parties which represent their interests. The threat comes from the exploiting classes. It is they who undermine the parliamentary system both from within and without by making it an instrument to defend their narrow interests. When the people begin to use parliamentary institutions for advancing their cause and then move away from the influence of the big bourgeoisie and landlords, these classes do not hesitate to trample underfoot parliamentary democracy as has been done many times in the dismissal of elected state governments by the Centre. The semi-fascist terror in West Bengal and Tripura and the naked violation of all constitutional provisions in these states provide vivid examples of the vicious extent to which the ruling classes can go. The talk of adopting a Presidential form of government and truncating parliamentary democracy are authoritarian symptoms which have grown with the regime of liberalisation and the increasing pressure of international finance capital. It is of utmost importance that parliamentary and democratic institutions are defended in the interests of the people against such threats and that such institutions are skillfully utilised in combination with extra parliamentary activities.

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