Displaying mastery over fascist Gobblesian propaganda methods, the caretaker Prime Minister has launched the BJP election campaign by spreading disinformation and untruths. In what must be considered as a gross constitutional impropriety, Vajpayee utilised the customary address to the nation by an outgoing Prime Minister to seek retribution for being
dethroned' through aconspiracy’. Earlier on the same day addressing the annual session of the CII Vajpayee sought to exploit the distress of the industry over political uncertainty. The basic content of the argument, now endorsed by the BJP national executive amounts to claiming that the opposition ganged up and conspired to pull his government down; that there was no issue whatsoever for his ouster and the opposition had plunged the country into uncertainty without having an alternative.
Let us examine these claims. The abject truth of the matter is that this government fell because one of its pre-poll coalition partners, the AIADMK, blowing hot and cold for many months now, withdrew support by informing in writing the President of India. The President, who in the first place waited many days for a letter of support from Ms. Jayalalitha to install the Vajpayee government, on this occasion directed him to seek a vote of confidence. It is this vote that the government lost and hence fell. At the CII meeting, Vajpayee bemoaned that the sponsors of the motion against his government did not even have an alternative in mind. In the fist place it is Mr. Vajpayee who sponsored the motion and when the government sponsors a confidence motion, in a parliamentary democracy, the opposition votes against it. When the government loses the vote it cannot turn back and charge the opposition with failing to keep it in office. The job of being in office is that of the government and not of the opposition. In any case all this talk of an alternative is irrelevant in a parliamentary democracy where the government seeks the confidence of the house in order to remain in office. The question of alternative arises only if the government loses its vote. And in this case having lost it by a wafer thin one vote, to expect the opposition to have an alternative in place is tantamount to crying foul after defeat. Mr. Vajpayee, earlier, as the leader of the opposition chose to gang up with the Congress in pulling down both the Deve Gowda and the I.K. Gujaral governments. Did he or the BJP then have an alternative in mind? IT was crystal clear that the fall of Gujaral government meant imposing mid-term elections on the country. Yet Mr. Vajpayee chose to do so without an alternative in sight and ganged up with the Congress for the purpose. Similarly when the BJP withdrew support from the V.P. Singh government, did they spare even a thought on what can be the alternative? In a parliamentary democracy, the opposition opposes the government particularly on occasions when vote of confidence is brought forward. To expect otherwise, is to suggest the negation of the opposition itself. In fact on every single occasion in Indian electoral history, since 1977, it is the BJP that is singularly responsible for the fall of every non-Congress government. The dual membership issue raked up by the RSS led to the downfall of the Morarji Desai-Janata Party government in 1979; the withdrawal of support from the V.P. Singh government on Advani’s notorious rath yatra was the cause for its downfall; the BJP’s unprincipled ganging up with the Congress was the cause for the fall of both the Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujaral governments. And on this occasion, the BJP’s singular inability to maintain its pre-poll coalition is the cause for the downfall of this government.
Thus we find the country being plunged into political instability as a result of the BJP’s ineptitude and inability to handle its coalition. If this government fell it fell because of its own contradictions. This in fact appeared inevitable from the beginning because the only cementing force of this coalition was the common desire to share the spoils of office.
Once this government fell, the question of an alternative formation arose. The CPI(M) at its 16th Congress had clearly announced that in the event of the fall of this government, it would prefer a secular alternative government within the 12th Lok Sabha instead of pushing the country into another mid-term election. Given the 12th Lok Sabha’s arithmetic, such an alternative would not have been possible without the leading role of the Congress. The CPI(M) therefore decided to support such an alternative government from the outside on an issue to issue basis.
The possibilities of a Congress minority government or a Congress-led coalition government as an alternative were sabotaged from realisation by the Samajwadi Party. Ironically, Mulayam Singh Yadav who was one of the first leaders in the country to publicly articulate the need for a Congress-led alternative government to the present government, suddenly performed a volte face by stating that he would not support a Congress led government or participate in a coalition under Congress leadership. This stand of his virtually ensured that an alternative under Congress leadership could not emerge. The Samajwadi Party was ably assisted in this task by the RSP and Forward Bloc who as an editorial of a national daily said were proving “their revolutionary credentials by seeking the support of the Congress rather than giving support to the Congress”.
Once it was clear that a Congress minority government or a Congress-led coalition were not possible, the only other option was to have some other alternative government supported by the Congress from the outside. This however, was sabotaged by the Congress itself. Its Working Committee decided that the alternative government could only be headed by itself and that it would not support any other possibility. Thus, with all these three possibilities being sabotaged the only course before the country and the people was to go in for elections. The union cabinet recommended dissolution of the Lok Sabha and mid-term elections as the only way out of the situation. These elections have come before the country, in the first place, because the Vajpayee government fell and in the second because an alternative could not emerge. But without the fall of the Vajpayee government the question of an alternative does not arise at all. Hence, if there was anyone responsible for imposing these elections on the country, it is the failure of the Vajpayee government to keep its own flock together. It is indeed most dubious and diabolic to now suggest that since the BJP could not keep its flock together, the opposition should have voted for the BJP government to continue.
It is also important to note other powerful forces that were at work to prevent an alternative from emerging and thus virtually facilitated the continuing of the BJP government and provided them a propaganda advantage? While there would be many factors at play, particularly the political specificities and compulsions at the state level that reflected at the national level, support to the Congress party, one important factor that is being ignored is the role of imperialism and big business. The Vajpayee government has been the best one in independent India to further imperialist interests. During the course of the last one-year, its economic policy measures greatly facilitated the penetration of Western capital to virtually control important levers of the Indian economy. What has been done in the course of this one year in this direction of undermining India’s economic sovereignty is much more than what were achieved in this direction during the last eight years of economic reform. Many more important issues were in the pipeline. These are the issues that are important from the US imperialist point of view to strengthen their control over India and the subcontinent. The Insurance privatisation bill was in the pipeline and many commitments to the WTO were to be endorsed by this BJP government. Having jettisoned its slogan of Swadeshi the moment it assumed office, the BJP was only too willing to mortgage India’s economic sovereignty to US interests. The CTBT, the country is being informed was to be signed in September and an assurance to this effect was already given to the USA by the external affairs minister. The clandestine manner in which such a commitment was made highlights the intrigue and concealment policy when dealing with Western powers. The issue of signing the CTBT has not been debated in parliament or endorsed by the Indian people. Bypassing Indian democratic opinion and institutions the BJP government was preparing to legalise India’s subservience to imperialist designs to legitimise the nuclear weapon monopoly of the present `Big Five’ and without any commitment on universal nuclear disarmament. With such important decisions at stake, imperialism made all efforts to ensure that no alternative government could be formed with the support of the Left from the outside. Because if this had happened then the gains for imperialism in the pipeline would be in jeopardy, given the Left’s consistent and principled opposition to these issues.
Likewise, domestically for the Indian big business, this BJP-led government was actually offering a bonanza. Many a policy measure that would facilitate the loot by the ruling classes of the Indian people are in the pipeline. It is in the intersts of big business that the present government continue so that they can derive the complete benefits from its policy. The huge orders for defence purchases made during the course of this year also brought into play the international arms lobby. All these forces acted in cohesion to ensure that no alternative government which depends upon the Left be allowed to be formed.
Hence, the sabotage of an alternative government succeeded. Political immorality knew no bounds. Coercion, allurement, and huge amounts of money laundering has reportedly taken place to ensure that the country goes in for an election rather than for an alternative government.
Would it, therefore, have been better to have allowed the present BJP government to continue to exist? On the contrary, every single day when this government was in office has meant greater vulnerability for India as a country and greater insecurity and misery for the people. The ceaseless and shameless violence unleashed against the minorities particularly the Christians created an atmosphere of hate and insecurity in the ocuntry. The economic policy measures of Videshi in the name of Swadeshi was jeopardising the very foundations of India’s economic sovereignty . Open penetration of RSS in the adminstrative apparatus particularly in the sphere of educational institutions was spreading deep the poison of communal hate and fratricide. The open charges of corruption leveled by former adviser to the finance minister, and the former chief of naval staff clearly exposed the BJP as a party without scruples, willing to sell the interests of the country for its monetary and political advance. The massive privatisation drive of the public sector had resulted during the last year in a galloping growth of unemployment. Unheard of price increase, particularly of essential commodities, had made life of the vast majority of Indian people more miserable. Thus on every count, this BJP government had to go at the earliest for the sake of India and its people.
And, this precisely was the conclusion of the CPI(M)’s 16th Congress. The country and the people were seeking deliverance from this government. Hence it is with a sense of relief that one must view the fall of the present government.
Therefore the present political uncertainty in the country is directly the result of the BJP’s inability to provide a stable government despite having the numbers in its favour. The coming elections must ensure that the communal forces cannot continue to strengthen their vice like grip over our society, polity and the economy. Given their history of destabilising successive governments, this primary cause for instability in the country must not be allowed to return anyway close to capturing state power.