THREE hundred MPs elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009 are crorepatis. The number was 154 out of 543 in the 14th Lok Sabha. Of course, even in the period following independence, industrialists and business houses used to influence people’s representatives through their money power. In the present era of liberalisation, industrialists are trying to enter the legislative bodies directly as people’s representatives.138 out of the total 203 MPs of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha are crorepatis. The main opposition party, the BJP occupies the second place with 58 crorepati MPs.
The value of the total assets declared by the present Lok Sabha MPs while filing their nominations for the parliament elections was Rs 3075 crores. These are the book value of the assets. The real value is considerably more than this. And it is common knowledge that the value of the undeclared assets will be even more.
We call ourselves the largest democracy in the world. We have 72 crore registered voters. The government has declared that the expenditure for holding the 2009 parliament elections was Rs 1120 crores. It is estimated that the total expenditure of the candidates would be more than Rs 10,000 crores. As per the rules, a candidate in the parliament elections cannot spend more than Rs 25 lakhs; in the case of the elections to the state assemblies, the expenditure should not be more than Rs 10 lakhs. If we calculate the total expenditure of all the candidates to the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, how much would be the expenditure? Even if, say, 10 candidates on an average have contested in each Lok Sabha constituency, the total expenditure should be Rs 1350 crores. Instead, the fact that the total expenditure is estimated at Rs 10,000 crores itself reveals the extent to which the role of money has increased in elections.
When 300 out of the 543 Lok Sabha MPs and 95 out of the total 215 MPs in Rajya Sabha are crorepatis, is it necessary to explain whom the discussions in the parliament benefit and whose interests are protected by the parliament?
77 per cent of the people in our country are surviving on less than Rs 20 per day. On the other hand, the number of Indians among the richest of the world is growing. 58 crores out of our 72 crores registered voters are poor. But ironically, majority of their representatives are crorepatis! Uttar Pradesh leads the other states in poverty and in the number of poor. Parties, which are highly vocal about the oppressed, about the dalits, about social justice, have been ruling the state. The largest number of crorepatis, 52, have been elected from this state!
VOTE TURNED INTO A COMMODITY
The tendency to degrade democracy and make it ridiculous with money power has attained more speed in the era of globalisation. The amount of money offered by various bourgeois parties to the voters for casting their ‘highly sacred vote’, is increasing to such an extent that it is not so easy for the voters to reject it. ‘They pay Rs 150 per person for participating in a procession wearing the party cap. In addition they also give ‘biryani’, and a quarter bottle of liquor. The remuneration is more for distributing voters’ slips house to house. At least Rs 1000 is paid per day for the polling agents. That is why we are quite busy during election time’ said a woman working as a domestic maid. It is clearly evident that market economy has converted election campaign as a business, vote as a commodity and completely robbed democracy of its true spirit. The days of seeking to appease voters calling them ‘gods’ have gone. These are the days when the poor think that they can be happy for at least a few days if the rich contest elections. This is nothing but an effort to change the situation where universal adult suffrage and its power have to kneel down before the might of the money power of the rich.
The policies of liberalisation are very cruel and anti people. But, to implement them, there has to be a government. The electoral system is needed to form the government. And in these elections, only those who support the policies of liberalisation must be elected. Even within the bourgeois democratic system, if elections are held with the true spirit of democracy, there is a possibility of people defeating the ruling classes and elect the Left parties and those who are pro poor. There are such examples all over the world. Sukarno in
Indonesia in the 1960s and Allende in in 1971 won elections in their countries. Today, we are witnessing instances of anti imperialist forces and Leftists winning elections in several Latin American countries. In our country too, as early as in 1957 a government led by EMS Namboodiripad was formed in Kerala. In 1967 and later, Left parties were able to form and sustain governments in Kerala, Chile West Bengal and Tripura.
Wherever the Left parties win elections and come to power, they try to implement anti imperialist and anti capitalist policies within the existing possibilities. That is why
imperialism tries to intervene in all the elections held anywhere in the world. It resorts to all sorts of machinations to prevent the Left forces from coming to power. If the Left forces come to power despite these, it continues its scheming against these governments and makes all efforts to topple them. US
Marx said that capital tries to go to any corner of the world, enter any sector and do any job to increase its profits and will stoop to any level for this. In the present stage, the role of finance capital has increased manifold. International finance capital is not in a position to tolerate the existence of any force that creates even small hurdles to its movements, activities and exploitation.
Our country is an example. In the 14th Lok Sabha, the UPA government was dependent on the support of the Left parties. We have seen the efforts of the Left parties in blocking the implementation of the economic reforms by the ruling classes. Soon after the results of the 2009 parliament elections came out, Manmohan Singh said that he felt relieved and unshackled. The international and national capitalist class was more elated. The forces of ‘reform’ have utilised all the resources at their disposal to ensure that the strength of the Left, which were creating obstacles in speedy implementation of their reforms, is reduced.
At present the possibility of attacking the Left through semi fascist methods, as was done in the 1972 elections in
West Bengal, does not exist. The changes in the method of conducting elections, the changes in the communication system, the increasing awareness among the people, the coming into existence of coalition politics, and more than these, the increased strength of the Left compared to 1972, the continuing unity of the Left forces and the Left having some friends – all these factors are preventing the exact repetition of the 1972 scenario.
That is why finance capital has utilised its own strength – the power of money – liberally in the 2009 elections. That is why the strength of crorepatis has doubled in the 15th Lok Sabha.
MENACE OF PAID NEWS
The ruling classes are increasing poverty through their policies of liberalisation. They are utilising the same poverty as a weakness of the people to gain upper hand in the elections, by throwing in huge amounts of money in the elections. They are trying to attack the consciousness of the people through the strength of the media. The report of the Press Council of India presented in the Council meeting on April 26 demonstrates the gravity of the malaise of ‘paid news’ afflicting the media.
‘Paid news’ is nothing but advertisement creating an illusion of news. Advertisements are counted as election expenses. But, news is not. So, huge amounts of money are collected and reports are written highly praising the candidate. The articles written in this regard by eminent journalist P Sainath exposing the case of Ashok Chavan, chief minister of
Maharashtra, are commendable. Same type of ‘news’ in 47 full page supplements, praising Ashok Chavan appeared in three papers within a period of ten days. More than Rs 75 crores should have been paid if these were considered as advertisements. But Ashok Chavan has shown that he spent only Rs 5379 on advertisements in papers during the elections. Of course, it is another matter that the MLA, a member of the family owning the paper got a cabinet berth in Ashok Chavan’s ministry.
In the era of liberalisation, the capitalists in our country are increasing their wealth by outright exploitation of public and natural resources. In 2010 – 11 budget, Rs 39,000 crores were allotted to NREGA, but tax concessions worth Rs Five lakh crores were extended to the corporates. By ensuring that the price of the gas from KG basin is fixed to benefit his interests, Mukesh Ambani gained an additional profit of Rs 65,000 crores. The private telecom companies were benefitted by Rs 60,000 crores, by bidding for the 2 G Spectrum at cheap rates. The Reddy brothers resorted to illegal mining involving an additional three crore tonnes of iron ore. The international price of one tonne of iron ore is Rs 4500. This means that the Reddy brothers earned an additional Rs 1,35,000 crores through illegal iron ore mining! Lakhs of crores of rupees are involved in the allotment of land and in mining in Andhra Pradesh alone.
The ruling classes believe that they should be in majority in the legislative bodies too in order to continue this outright exploitation and amassing of wealth. They are trying to ensure this. They feel that it is not enough to operate behind the scenes; so they are directly coming onto the stage. At one time, there was demarcation between the politicians and capitalists. Now, some of the ‘strong’ politicians are becoming capitalists. And, capitalists are donning the second role of politicians. They are trying to suffocate and smother democracy with their money bags. They are indulging in a show of providing welfare benefits to curtail the resentment of the people. They are starting their own TV channels and newspapers and creating an illusion that what they propagate through their media is the public opinion. While creating irretrievable harm to democracy in practice and acting in most autocratic manner, they propagate that this is democracy. They indulge in malicious propaganda that communists oppose democracy and run dictatorial governments while what they practice is true democracy. Communists and democratic and secular minded people must take this situation as a challenge and expose the drama of the ruling classes. The democratic spirit of the people has to be advanced.
Article from:Markist Paper Written ByM V