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Background of Alternative Politics in Orissa/Odisha

 

~ Prafulla Samantra & Rabi Das, Nov 2012

 

In the first decade in Independent India idealism, service and sacrifice had its impact on , which resulted in the process of nation building and strengthening the democratic institutions. The process gradually weakened and corruption affected state policy and administration; the mass discontent created by this was reflected in the anti- campaign in 1969. The leadership was conscious that the country should not deviate from the fundamental principles of the freedom struggle. That is why in the decades of the ‘70s when authoritarianism and corruption raised its head, a mass movement developed against it. The people of the country confronted emergency and expressed a clear-cut opinion in 1977 to re-establish democracy. However, corruption engulfed the entire administrative system and the state and central leaders were neck deep in corruption, which resulted in a serious economic crisis in the country. Taking advantage of this situation, without the knowledge of the people, the economic policies of neoliberalism and globalization were imposed on them.

 

Under this economic regime, the impact of foreign and Indian capital, including the Indian and foreign companies, increased on politics and economy to the country. The foundation of this economy is dictatorial and the repressive administrative system, which is reflected in every aspect of the country. This is completely against the fundamental principles of the freedom struggle and democracy.

 

In this, the social, economic and political rights of the people are shrinking and the importance of capital and capitalists has increased. Most of the leaders and parties ruling the country and states work as their agents and have unleashed repression on the common people. Their only aim is handing over the precious natural and common resources to the companies and providing them lakhs of crores of profit and buying the public opinion by the help of their financial power. Due to their policies, poverty is increasing, farmers are committing suicide, colossal economic disparities are created and the natural environment of the country is being destroyed. In this condition, there is a need for creating an alternative politics and organization for re-establishing the values of the freedom struggle and defending the fundamental freedom and rights of the citizens. The leadership who have ruled and ruling our state for the past fifty years are not free of corruption. There is a gradual degeneration of the state administration due to the corruption of the leadership who have been ruling our state ; the politics is also polluted. Today’s politics is governed by black money. As a result of this, more than 50% of the people are below the poverty line. 70% or 3 crore people of our state are Adivasis, Dalits, agricultural labourers, marginal and landless farmers, who are unable to get the necessary nutritional diet, education and health service. Politics has been gradually reduced to a business by the ruling parties. Democracy has completely vanished from the political parties. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been ruling Odisha for the past 12 years, who’s head Naveen Patnaik is unable to talk to the common voting public and people also do not understand what he says. Though the Chief Minister is getting votes, he is not able to recognize his own MLAs. It is said that Naveen is quite clean and above board, then how come in his rule thousands of crore rupees of corruption is happening in daal, water and mines.

 

The quantum and rate of corruption in police stations, Tehsil block offices and other departments have increased instead of decreasing. The property of ruling party MLAs, engineers, senior officers and ministers continues to increase. If the Chief Minister is free of corruption, then from where is the ruling party getting thousands of crores of rupees to spend on elections. Therefore, it proves that the corruption of the past 12 years rule is far more than the past 40 years. As a result of this, the politics of ruling BJD revolves around Naveen Pathak. The MLAs are neither free to speak in the legislation assembly nor to the Chief Minister about the problems of the people. Departmental secretaries have been given the scope to work sidelining the ministers, as a result of which there is whimsical governance in the administration and party by the boss. This type of anti-people and undemocratic politics is propagated as pro-development by the mass media who are financially controlled by the companies such that it becomes easy to plunder the natural resources of Odisha by the companies. Now this boss has been projected as a supremo by the mass media.

 

Now politics is only done for the profit of the companies. Common people have no place in this. The role of the main opposition political parties is the same. There has been severe allegation of corruption against the Centre, which is ruled by the Congress Party. This party blindly follows what is said by the high command. BJP has also adopted the economic policies of Congress, which devastates agriculture and farmers for the benefit of the companies. The BJP shared power with BJD for 9 years in Odisha; most of them are corrupted. The Congress at the Centre; BJD in Odisha; and BJP in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh; are equally responsible for the coal scam today. When agricultural land, river water, forest resources and mines are snatched from the people and handed over to the companies at cheap rates in our state, then the displaced farmers and Adivasis face police lathis and bullets when they democratically protest against these measures. But these main opposition parties are not ready to say a single sentence against these companies. Therefore, while the plunder of mines, water and land is portrayed as development by the Naveen Government in the name of industrialization, the two main opposition parties are unable to oppose the ongoing blind destructive industrialization. Contemporary politics is being corporatized and criminalized. This will drain the natural resources of the state. Mountains and rivers will be reduced to deserts; heat will increase with deficit in rainfall; agriculture will be devastated; farmers and Adivasis will lose their livelihoods, and the state will be become a food deficit state. Therefore, for the preservation of environment and along with alternative development, there is a dire need of a new political power. By a sustainable and balanced development, agro industries, construction of village industries, and small oil, sugar and spinning mills can be prioritized where it is possible to employ unemployed youth. The aim of this politics is to draw a prosperity line and provide the broad masses of people economic, educational and health services equally.

 

In the mainstream political parties in Odisha, farmers, and leadership is totally absent. Though Adivasis and Dalits constitute 40% of the state’s population, in the political parties there has been no reflection of their voices in the leadership for the past 60 years. Instead of doing justice to agriculture and farmers, there is a conspiracy to finish off agriculture through senseless industrialization. By name, it is development, but in reality, it is the destruction of water, forests, agriculture and the livelihood security of crores of people who are dependent on them. In these parties, there is no place for the politics based on the socio-economic context of Adivasis, Dalits and farmers. In the entire state when the mass movements are going on for the preservation and security of agricultural land along with agriculture and forest resources, the ruling and main opposition parties are refusing to address the issues raised by them. It is because they get black money from companies for their politics. Where is the ruler of the state? He is there to provide security for the companies and for the repression of mass movements by engaging the police force. Today, in every nook and corner burglary, dacoity, murder and rape by antisocial goons are increasing day by day. Why is it not prevented? To save democracy today, it is necessary to unseat the parties and their leaders by 2014 that have pushed the people of the state towards anarchy by making the administration anti-people, undemocratic and corrupt; otherwise, life will be intolerable by the arrogance of this party.

 

After seeing all these, since the voters do not have any alternative during the elections, it is easy to garner votes using money and muscle power. Therefore, the biggest necessity of today is the politics, which can provide security for agriculture, farmers, fishermen, unorganized labour, Adivasis and Dalits, and create leadership by them. Hence, it is really necessary to create mass awareness for democratic politics in every village. The farmers of the villages have to question the political parties who come for their votes, from where they amass so much wealth? Today, when the condition of agriculture and farmers is precarious, then how MLAs, MPs, Chief Ministers and officials are becoming rich? Why can’t we be provided the pension drawn by a Class IV employee? Why education has been commercialized instead of making provision of common schools and teachers from villages to cities? Why are children discriminated? While asking these questions, politics has to be freed from black money by creating a new political force, which can provide education, health services and livelihood for everyone in Odisha. There is a need for a new political force and party where there will be no high command or a supremo in the party. There will be equal rights for every ordinary worker where there will be a collective leadership of Adivasis, Dalits and farmers to manage the affairs of the party. Gram Sabhas have to liberated from the high-handedness of the political parties.

 

Financial and organizational assistance will be sought by honest political workers on behalf of the people. To prevent astronomical expenditure in elections, people’s committees have to be constituted in every village. This type of political alternative will be able to implement alternative development policy for the farmers, agricultural labourers, forest workers and slum dwellers of Odisha. Otherwise, a leader like who cannot speak the language of people, who does not have any emotional bond with the people, who runs the state like an emperor by the help of officials will ruin the state by opportunism, companification, commercialization and will pauperize the state by draining its resources and convert the state into a grazing meadow for the companies by corrupt administration and degenerate politics which will cripple our education and heath institutions, destroy our agriculture, land, rivers, oceans and forests. To prevent this, there is a dire need of an alternative political force, which can create an alternative political platform creating a united campaign, for the rights of people along with likeminded mass organizations. The main objective for a mass campaign for alternative politics is creating awareness among people regarding alternatives and developing people’s political organization in every Gram Panchayat. There is a need for a long struggle for the reflection of people’s power in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha.

 

[Translated into English by Asit Das]

 

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