The Indian people are going to the polls to elect a new Lok Sabha and to form a new government. These elections are taking place after six years of BJP rule. These six years have been a period when communal forces have been given systematic support to challenge the basis of India’s secular and democratic foundations. What happened in Gujarat in the year 2002, when State-sponsored violence against the minorities took place, is a warning which cannot be ignored by any citizen who cherishes a secular, strong and united India.
The basis for the threat to India’s secular-democratic edifice comes from the communal ideology which is propagated insidiously by the BJP and its mentor – the RSS. Setting India on the path of progress and strengthening national unity requires the rejection of all communal ideologies and the parties and leaders who represent them.
Six years is a sufficiently long time for a government to fulfill its commitments and render an account to the people. What has the BJP-led government to report? Today all sections of the people face the problem of unemployment. The BJP-led government boasts that it is responsible for the economic growth. This growth has not led to jobs being created for the people. The kisans who constitute the bulk of the rural population are facing difficulties as never before because of the policies of the government. The agrarian crisis has led to the distressing scene of farmers committing suicide in despair in a number of states.
The economic policies of the BJP-led government have benefited only 10 per cent of the people. May be some of them feel good today.
The removal of poverty in a country like India cannot be achieved without land reforms. The experience of West Bengal testifies to the role land reforms play for the upliftment of the rural people. Land reforms and distribution of surplus land to the landless has disappeared from the agenda of the BJP-led government.
India has to develop by industrialisation and acquisition of new technology. But this cannot be done at the cost of the interests of domestic industry. The policies pursued have been harmful for Indian industry, in particular the small and medium sectors. Closing of factories and industrial estates has become the common feature all over the country.
The BJP-led government has acted against the interests of the states by starving them of funds and imposing their dictates on fiscal matters. Even the constitutional entitlement of resources for the states are sought to be curtailed by conditionalities.
The CPI (M) and the Left parties have an alternative set of policies:
· Increased public investment in agriculture and infrastructure.
· Implementation of land reforms.
· Strengthening of the panchayati raj system.
· Decentralisation of powers to the states.
· Strengthening of the public distribution system.
· Unearthing black money and realisation of tax-dues to enhance resource mobilisation.
· Protection of democratic rights including the right to strike.
· Separation of religion from State and politics.
The CPI (M) and the Left parties will struggle for these alternative policies when elected to Parliament.
Defeating the BJP and its allies is the foremost task in these elections.
I appeal to you to vote for the CPI (M) and Left candidates in these elections. In other seats, please support candidates of the secular-democratic parties who can defeat the BJP. Our goal should be the formation of an alternative secular government at the centre.
Thank you all.