THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS to the Parliament are going to be very crucial and critical.


The 2019 general elections to the Parliament are going to be very crucial and critical for our secular democratic republic, its future, and our constitutional ethos. The experience of the BJP-led NDA government with Mr Narendra Modi as Prime Minister has been one of misrule and misgovernance of national resources resulting in despair for the people. The very Constitution and the founding principles of the republic such as Secularism, Socialism, Federalism, Equality, Liberty, Fraternity, and Justice to all sections of society are under a sustained attack. The Constitution of the country is being undermined, questioned, and subverted. Democracy is in peril.

The RSS and its other allied right-wing extremist organizations have come to the fore of our polity and have become aggressive in pushing their ideology and agenda which are divisive, sectarian, communal, and fascist. They continue to try to redefine Indian Nationhood and our Republic. They try to impose and perpetuate a monolithic, illiberal socio-political order in the name of Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra.

There is a systematic attack on our Constitutional bodies and institutions. Authoritarianism and demagogy are the characteristics of Prime Minister Modi and the Government being controlled by the RSS. Those who question the government, criticize its policies, and ask for accountability are being branded as anti-nationals and urban Naxalites. Draconian colonial Laws such as sedition are being slapped on to suppress dissenting activists, students, and intellectuals. Mob lynching of Dalits, Tribals, and Minorities particularly Muslims continues unabated in the name of cow protection, love Jihad, etc.

The tenure of the Modi government has presided over a steep rise in the attacks on SCs, STs, and other vulnerable groups on the pretext of cow vigilantism and inter-caste marriages, etc. Guided by the RSS’s Manuwadi ideology, attempts are on to deprive the downtrodden of their constitutional claims of reservations and protection under the SC/STs Prevention of Atrocities Act. Similarly, the Forest Rights Act is not being implemented properly depriving Tribals of their rights and livelihood. The Sangh Parivar’s anti-Dalit attitude also manifested itself on many occasions.

Right after the BJP-led NDA government came to power, one of the first acts of the Government was to announce the unceremonious shutting down of the Planning Commission. In a country where as many as 79% of the population lives in poverty and hunger, planning is necessary to alleviate the problems of the common masses. By scraping away the Planning Commission and with NITI Aayog assuming the role of recommending disinvestment and strategic sale of public sector units, the market forces led by International Finance Capital are effectively controlling the economy bringing more misery to the people.

The agricultural sector is in deep crisis. A glaring and reneged promise of the BJP was of doubling the farmers’ income and ensuring to the peasantry the Minimum Support Price at 50% above the cost of production for all crops. The government betrayed farmers on the comprehensive loan waivers. The government is not ready to ensure minimum wage and social security to agricultural workers and instead has curtailed the allocation to MGNREGA. The biggest betrayal and deceit is by the flagship scheme of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, which has been made an instrument of loot, aiding private insurance companies. The NDA government has allowed 100% FDI in agriculture and announced contract farming that will facilitate the large-scale takeover of cultivation by Multinational Agro Business companies thus making farmers mere agricultural labourers on their own land.

The neo-liberal policies and the apathy of the centre towards farmers have further deepened the agricultural crisis and the alarming increase in farmers’ suicide. The foodgrain production has declined in 2015-16 from the preceding 5 years, threatening the survival of the vast peasantry in the countryside and the nation’s food security while exposing the government’s pro-farmer mask.

Labour laws are being amended brazenly favouring employers, snatching away the hard-earned rights of the workers including eight hours of work, minimum wages, social security and the right to organize and collective bargaining. The contract system is being encouraged everywhere and yet another attack is the fixed-term employment allowed in all sectors.

India now has the highest number of unemployed people in the world! This government came to power on the promise of creating 2 crore jobs every year but barely succeeded in creating 2 lakh jobs each year. The unemployment rate has nearly doubled in the 4 years under Modi and is about to reach 7%. India’s youth population is the largest in the world at nearly 600 million but the lack of decent employment is making them frustrated. This young nation needs a government that can create employment opportunities but the Modi government and its decisions like demonetisation and the hasty implementation of GST have further crushed the employment prospects. Demonetisation alone had resulted in a huge loss of employment. GST regime has not only worsened the unemployment situation, but it has also taken away many essential commodities including medicine and healthcare from the reach of the people. Unemployment and underemployment are the most burning problems before our youth and their future remains bleak and uncertain.

The government is bent on promoting privatization of education and health sectors and thus allowing commercialization of these sectors taking both education and healthcare away from the reach of people. Evident from its efforts for privatising higher education like giving the institute of eminence tag to Mukesh Ambani’s yet-to-be-founded JIO institute overlooking well-performing public sector universities. Similarly, health sector schemes like Ayushman Bharat will channel the benefits to the private insurers, and private healthcare lobby. One example of how serious the government is about health care benefits reaching all is its reversal of an order capping the price of 108 life-saving drugs in 2014 under the pressure of US-based multinationals.

The decision of demonetisation yielded nothing but misery with 99% of the currency that was demonetised coming back to RBI. Demonetization, it turns out, was a futile exercise that brought to the RBI cost of Rs 21,000 crores in the printing of new notes. It has had no impact on terror funding as was claimed by the government. The bubble of unearthing black money is burst with the miseries met by the poorer sections of the people, workers in the unorganised sector and small traders. In short, demonetization accomplished nothing other than traumatizing crores of Indians. Demonetisation has been used to whiten black money.

Prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed under the current regime. The Public Distribution System which is the support system for the downtrodden has virtually collapsed due to a lack of funds and mismanagement. During the last five years, the prices of eight essential commodities have gone up nearly 72% while the per capita income of the average Indian in the metros has gone up by only 38%. The deregulation of petroleum prices has resulted in an unprecedented rise in the price of petroleum products despite the drastic fall in the international price of crude oil. Petrol and Diesel prices have hit an all-time high in 2018! In the years when the price of crude oil was low around the world, the BJP government kept on rising petrol and diesel prices.

  • Implement Swaminathan Committee recommendations.

  • Statutory assurance of remunerative prices (at least 50% on C2 Cost of Cultivation) for all farm produce through expanded and decentralized procurement.

  • One-time comprehensive loan waiver, along with a National Debt Relief Commission and timely and effective relief from disaster-related distress.

  • Reduce the cost of inputs for farmers either by regulating industry prices or offering subsidies directly to farmers;

  • Ensure timely, effective, and adequate compensation for crop loss due to natural disasters; implement comprehensive crop insurance that benefits farmers and covers all types of risks for all crops and for all farmers.

  • Summon regular special dedicated sessions in the Parliament to discuss the agrarian sector and its problems.

  • Provide comprehensive social security for all farm households including pensions for farmers agriculture workers and artisans above the age of 60

  • Enactment of central legislation for agricultural workers. Separate budget for agriculture in states and center.

  • Public sector storage and distribution systems are promoted.

  • Ban speculative trading in essential commodities.

  • Increase the number of guaranteed employment days under MGNREGS to 200 days per family, and ensure wage payment within the period guaranteed by statute and at par with legal minimum wages for unskilled farm labor;

  • Address the menace of stray animals by removing all legal and vigilante-imposed restrictions on the cattle trade, compensating farmers for the destruction of crops by wild and stray animals, and supporting animal shelters;

  • Stop land acquisition or land pooling without the informed consent of the farmers; no acquisition or diversion of agricultural land for commercial land development or for creation of land banks; prevent the bypassing or dilution of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 at the state level; and evolve land use and agricultural land protection policy.

  • Provide land and livelihood rights to the landless, including agricultural and homestead land, water for fishing, and mining of minor minerals.

  • Ensure remunerative guaranteed prices for milk and its procurement for dairies and to supplement nutritional security through Mid Day Meal Scheme and Integrated Child Development Scheme etc.

  • Protect the farmers from corporate plunder in the name of contract farming by reviewing the Contract Farming Act 2018.

  • Remove the control of trade lobby and anti-farmer bias of agricultural produce trade policy and remove agriculture-related deals from Free Trade Agreements like RCEP.

  • Ensure implementation of land ceiling laws, transfer of surplus land and other available lands to landless poor and Dalits, and provide land rights and pattas to women and mutation of land in the name of women's successors.

  • Considering the depletion of cultivable land at an alarming speed, exclusive agricultural zones be notified and protected.

The RSS ideology always played the politics of polarisation and alienation of the Muslims and their efforts intensified in the last five years. Several brutal attacks took place on poor Muslims. They were constantly the targets of mob lynchings with the perpetrators becoming assertive of the impunity shown by the government. The controversy surrounding the Ayodhya dispute and the Triple Talaq bill was also used to stigmatize the entire Muslim population and mobilise the Hindu population against them. Recently, the controversy and violence after the proposed amendments in the Citizenship Act also reflect the antipathy of the rulers towards the minority.

The plight of the women and children continues to be miserable. These vulnerable groups continue to live in insecurity. Framing pro-women and pro-children policies should have been a priority but the government’s allocation for these remains meagre and insufficient. Crimes against women have increased manifold in the preceding years and they include heinous crimes like rape and trafficking. India is suffering from a gender pay gap of 27% with men earning more than women in every sector making inequality a gendered phenomenon and restricting women from exercising their agency effectively. Despite the presence of many legislation protecting child rights like the Right to Education, the will to effectively implement them is thoroughly absent in the present regime resulting in children being employed in hazardous industries like mining and chemicals.

The problems of the elders in our country are quite serious. There are about 24 crore persons above 55 years of age in our country. As per the NSSO survey, 30% of the elderly males and a staggering 72% of elderly females depend on others without any income of their own. The government’s draft National Policy on Senior Citizens can be described only as wishful thinking without the will the implement it.

The BJP came to power with a promise of “Achche Din” (Good Days) and “Sab ka Sath Sab ka Vikas” (Development for all). These are nothing but rhetoric and hollow promises. The government is brazenly serving the interest of corporate and monopoly houses. This has led to unprecedented inequality evident from the ever-increasing gulf between the rich and the poor with the top 1% of the population amassing 53% wealth of the country.

The foreign policy of the BJP government is even a larger mess of failures even after the much-hyped and publicised foreign tours of the PM. The one-man show led by Mr Modi has consistently encroached upon the office of the Foreign and Defence Minister and has failed to yield much for the benefit of the commoners. The main theme of his foreign policy has been a pro-US-Israel tilt and its failure to pursue independent positions keeping in view our relationships with the developing countries and taking a reasonable proactive role in multilateral forums. The BJP government has not taken the meaningful initiative to engage with our neighbouring countries. The fight against terrorism needs to be a collective one with all peace-loving forces on board but the policy of aligning with US interests is leaving not much space for that.

The recent terror attack on CRPF in Pulwama and the post-Pulwama developments are being brazenly politicized by BJP and RSS rather than maintaining the unity of the people. The use of armed forces for political mileage is condemnable and detrimental to the morale of the forces.

The massive drive for privatization of our national wealth through disinvestment, outright and strategic sale of the public sector is rampant. Even strategic and key sectors like defence, railways, banks, insurance, BHEL and others are gradually being handed over to the foreign and domestic corporate undermining the national interest. This is also evident from the way the government is dealing with Air India.

In the name of “Make in India” and “Ease of Doing Business”, domestic and foreign corporates are allowed to exploit the country’s resources including oil, gas and forests. Laws to protect the environment are being diluted and violated open

  • Fix national minimum wages as per the recommendation of the 15th Indian Labour Conference.

  • Assure a minimum pension of Rs. 9,000 per month and indexed pension to all.

  • Scrap New Pension Scheme and restore the Old Pension Scheme.

  • Abolish Contract Labour system in perennial nature of job pending which strictly implement equal wages and benefits to contracting workers doing the same job as permanent workers.

  • Stop outsourcing and contractorisation of jobs of permanent and perennial nature.

  • Strict implementation of equal pay and equal work for men and women as per the Indian constitution.

  • Recognise workers employed in the NHM, MDM, Para-teachers, teaching and non-teaching staff of NCLP, Gramin chowkidars etc. as workers and pay minimum wages, social security benefits including pension etc. to all of them.

  • Immediately revoke “Fixed-Term Employment”.

  • Labour laws are strictly implemented in Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

  • Periodical wage revision to all CPSU Workers without insisting on any affordability condition.

  • Dedicated central legislation to protect and give social security to Domestic Workers.

  • Ensuring strict and strong implementation of regulatory and punitive measures based on Labour Laws, towards gainful employment and protection of vulnerable worker-force. Ensuring the enforcement and implementation of the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 1976 and time-bound rehabilitation will ensure protection and access to justice for vulnerable children, women and families in the brick kiln sector.

  • The issues regarding the security and protection of Street Vendors, Migrant labourers etc. be resolved. A central law is enacted to that effect.

  • Stop anti-worker and pro-employer amendments to the labour laws and codifications.

  • A large programme for poverty alleviation is initiated to guarantee a minimum stipend ensuring a decent living for poor families while strengthening the existing social sector schemes and also giving thrust to the generation of jobs for the disadvantaged.