The polling for the 15th Lok Sabha elections will begin in a week from now. The voters in various parts of the country in the biggest democratic exercise of all times will elect a government to the centre for the next five years. In the ongoing debate on the elections, the possibility of the formation of a non-Congress, non-BJP Government has come to the fore. While the media as well as the two main parties in the country are trying to rubbish the entire idea of an alternative government, the fact of the matter is that the country today badly needs the formation of such a government.
Alternative to What?
Ever since the policies of globalization and liberalization were introduced in the country, two things have happened simultaneously. Firstly, inequality in the country has increased manifold. India today has the largest number of billionaires as well as the largest number of hungry people in the world. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the aftermath of an acute agrarian crisis, the share of workers in industry have come down drastically, unemployment has increased and there has also been no improvement in terms of health, education and other social indicators. The policies of globalization in other words have made the rich richer and the poor poorer in the country. As a result of this assault on the lives and livelihood of the common man in India, in every election after 1991, the incumbent government has been voted out of power. Strangely however, the experience of the last decade or so have shown that while Governments have changed, the basic policy thrust in the country have remained committed to an aggressive pursuance of the same set of neo-liberal policies which has adversely affected the vast masses of the poor.
The reason for this is the fact that both the Congress as well as the BJP remains steadfastly committed to the ruling classes in the country. Since, in contemporary period of globalization, the ruling classes are increasingly aligning with imperialism, both these parties have also undertaken policies oriented towards more strategic alliance with the USA and pursuance of neo-liberal policies aimed towards benefiting international finance capital. It is for this reason that both the NDA as well as the UPA regime have aligned the country more and more with US imperialism, opened up the economy to trade and investment indiscriminately to the detriment of the vast masses of the country.
It is for this congruence of policies of both the main ruling class parties in the country that it is important to put in front of the people an alternative political agenda which challenges the policies of globalization and pro-imperialist tilt. In the absence of any such alternative agenda, the voters by default will be trapped in the bipolarity of the Congress and the BJP at the political level but when it comes to the question of economic policies and foreign policies the voter is denied of any such alternative. In short then, the third alternative that the Left is advocating today is not merely in terms of an electoral alternative in front of the people. Rather, the alternative envisaged by the Left is in the realm of policies which has to have three main features. Firstly, such an alternative government has to pursue pro-people economic policies as opposed to the anti-people economic policies pursued by the BJP and the Congress. Secondly, the alternative government has to be strongly committed to secularism and thirdly it has to be committed to pursuing an independent foreign policy rescinding from the pro-US tilt pursued by both the Congress as well as the BJP.
Congress and BJP’s attack against “Third Front”: The Real Reason
Ever since the election process started and the non-Congress, non-BJP parties have come together under the initiative of the Left, the BJP and Congress do not let a day go by without virulently attacking the so called “Third Front”. On the other hand both these parties claim that the “Third Front” is in no position to form the next Government. Naturally, many have asked this question as to why the Congress and the BJP are so much concerned about the “Third Front” if in any case it is not going to form the next Government. Many answers have been advanced pointing to the fact that both the Congress and BJP are actually scared of the possibility of a “Third Front” Government since their alliances are breaking. While there is some degree of truth in this argument, still it is not convincing because one has to also explain why the Congress and the BJP perceive a threat of desertion of their allies after the polls.
The real reason for the Congress and BJP’s attack against the Alternative formation is not because of simple electoral arithmetic. Rather it is because of the fact that this third force is projecting an agenda which is dangerous to the BJP and the Congress for two reasons. Firstly, as has been argued earlier, the BJP and the Congress both being ruling class parties want to have a bi-polar polity where there will be a mirage of political choice in front of the electorate but in terms of policies there will be no choice. The third alternative breaks this arrangement of monolithic policy choice in front of the people and hence is detrimental for the BJP and Congress. This is the primary reason why they are opposed to the third alternative. This also explains why in every debate the leaders of Congress and BJP do not debate on the policies advocated by the Left and the third alternative but abuse the “Third Front” on the grounds of electoral arithmetic and the bogey of stability. Secondly, it is a matter of fact that the policies of both the BJP and the Congress have adversely affected the lives of the people. Therefore, there exists an objective ground for articulation of alternative set of policies aimed at uplifting the conditions of the people. It is because of this objective factor that the parties who are today allying with the Left have come out of the folds of both the Congress and BJP. Again this hunger within the people for alternative policies aimed at better livelihoods actually increases the electoral prospects of the third force. Hence, the Congress and BJP are so aggressive against the so called “Third Front”.
Role of the Left
Left politics in its essence is a politics of challenging the hegemony and status quo in any social and political order. It is therefore imperative on the part of any left party to challenge the hegemony of imperialism and international finance capital. The Indian Left under the leadership of the CPI(M) has to be credited for providing the most consistent and effective resistance against the policies of globalization thereby attacking the hegemony of imperialism and international finance capital. This opposition to the policies of financial liberalization pursued by the UPA has actually saved the country from being completely devastated as a result of the global financial crisis.
It must also be pointed out that the role of Left does not merely end in terms of providing a critique or opposition to the ruling ideas of the time. The Left also has to provide alternatives aimed at betterment of the people. It is in this context that the role of the Left has been exemplary over the last five years whereby it not only opposed the anti-people policies of the UPA Government but also provided a set of alternative policy prescriptions. The Congress party going by its class character did not implement those alternative policies but they were presented before the people by the Left.
In order to ensure that such alternative policies are pursued it is clear from the above discussion that an alternative government has to be formed at the centre. Political mobilization for the formation of such an alternative government has to face the wrath of the ruling classes. The struggle for the alternative agenda and the formation of a government to pursue that agenda in its essence then is a part of the class struggle. In this struggle the pro-imperialist reactionary sections will try in every possible way to defeat the Left and thereby the alternative agenda. It is therefore incumbent upon the progressive, secular sensible people to forge strongest possible unity and increase the strength of the Left in Parliament to keep alive the possibility of forming such an alternative.