The electoral circus in the 'biggest democracy in the world' is now over. Over also is the drama about who would be Prime Minister after Congress leader Sonia Ghandi turned down the job. The new parliamentary circus has also completed its first shows with a 'Communist' presiding over the proceedings. A really unique historical situation, likely to be counted among the wonders of the world! All factions of the Indian bourgeoisie are very happy, as its democratic credentials have been satisfactorily substantiated and its stature as a worthy member of the 'international community' has been elevated a lot in comparison to its principal competitors, China and Pakistan.
Is the new government 'anti-capitalist'?
Almost as soon as the elections results were known, the media took upon itself the holy task of strengthening the mystification about the 'anti-capitalist' leanings of the new Congress-led government. The media focused attention on the negative response in the shares market and on various statements by leaders of the most important left wing parties of India like the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India. Their statements against privatisation, the selling of profit-making public sector enterprises, restructuring, globalisation, IMF, WTO etc. were given maximum publicity.
In reality, the bourgeoisie seems to be unperturbed by the new left government. It has seen the left in power in three states of India for quite a long time. It must now be quite confident about the essentially capitalist credentials of these 'anti-capitalists'! It only has to look to China to see how Stalinist 'Communism' is entirely compatible with competition on the world market. The majority of the bourgeoisie might have preferred the continuation of the old government, but it is not unhappy with the new one also. Mr. Anil Ambani, who has been judged the best businessman in Asia in the last year, has asserted that the Indian left will put the Chinese 'Communists' to shame in the near future and that the CPI(M), the biggest and strongest Stalinist party in India, is a great patriotic party. Can there be any better certificate for the capitalist credentials of the leading party of the left?
Important leaders of the left parties have also started asserting that they are not against reform, restructuring, 'foreign investment', privatisation, globalisation, 'automatic' hire and fire etc, as such. They are insisting only on putting a 'human face' on all these things. They would like to resort to privatisation and even to hire and fire, not with a crude method and a jubilant mood of celebration as in the case of the old government, but with political prudence, sophistication and a soothing ideological balm.
Moreover, the main political party in the new ruling coalition has been the traditional party of Indian national capital ever since the 'independence' of India in 1947. It served the national and international interests, including inevitably the imperialist interests, of Indian national capital in a very satisfactory way for a very long period of time. It has been responsible for the enhanced stature and confidence of the Indian bourgeoisie in the 'international community'. So the Indian bourgeoisie has little to be worried about when the Congress Party is the leader of the new ruling coalition baptised as the United Progressive Alliance. Mr. Chris Patten, the European Union external relations commissioner said in a statement in Brussels on 16th June, 2004, '"I look forward to working with the new Indian government, to deepening our relationship". According to a report in The Statesman of 11th June, 2004, one of the most sophisticated and reliable newspapers of the Indian bourgeoisie, the World Bank's India chief, Michael Carter, has welcomed the common minimum program of the United Progressive Alliance government. So there can be no doubt at all about the capitalist essence of the new government. The fact is that bourgeois democracy, elections and parliament cannot fail to produce a bourgeois government, whatever its ideological whitewash. So there is little possibility of any significant change in the economic sphere, although there may be a little change in the balance between privatisation and statification, in the limits to participation by 'foreign' capital in the enterprises of India. On the international front also the same imperialist policy of the Indian bourgeoisie will continue, with just a few more outbursts about anti-imperialism (anti-American imperialism as a rule). But the existing relations with the USA are most likely to continue, perhaps with a little more assertiveness as regards the 'independent' imperialist stance of the Indian bourgeoisie. The imperialist conflict with China is bound to remain and intensify despite the dependence of the new ruling coalition on the 'Communist' parties. The imperialist conflict with Pakistan is also bound to be unresolved, in spite of the pledge of continuing and deepening the 'peace process' made by the new government. The new government: better for the bourgeoisie, not the workers
It is now crystal clear that the support of the left parties does not in any way change the class character of the new government, which is capitalist from head to foot like the old one it has replaced. On the contrary: with all their propaganda about putting an end to indiscriminate privatisation, uncontrolled reforms and restructuring, unbridled 'foreign' investment in the country, kowtowing before the dictates of the IMF, WTO, American imperialism etc., the left parties are best placed to have a strong ideological impact on the working class and exploited masses. This will be a very big obstacle in the way of coming to consciousness. Moreover the decision of the left parties to support the government from the outside and not to have ministerial posts in the government will increase their mystifying power at a time when the scramble for ministerial berths among all the other political parties of capital is being looked upon with extreme abhorrence by the mass of the working class. This is likely to add to the credibility and acceptability of the left parties. Thus while there will be little change in the economic and foreign policies of the new governing team, the accession to power of Congress, supported by the left parties, could, in the short term at least, have definite political advantages for the ruling class, given that the more openly brutal approach of the previous right wing government has become increasingly unpopular.
In the period ahead, we will probably see a strengthening of the illusion that the new government is at least not so harshly capitalist as the old one and that there may be a little improvement in living and working conditions. The overwhelming majority of the working class has been trapped in the politics of false alternatives which the world bourgeoisie has been very consciously, deliberately and consistently pursuing in every part of the globe. But the determining factor at this level is not the good will or the populist statements of political leaders. It is the material condition of capitalism. Faced with a historic crisis of the system, every capitalist country and its government is bound to increase the attacks on the living and working conditions of the working class.
If it is to defend itself from these attacks, the working class will have to rid itself of all illusions. It will have to recognise that all the political parties participating in the elections and involved in the government are political parties of capital. The same also applies to certain extreme leftist parties like the Maoists who are boycotting the elections and claiming to be the true revolutionaries. The present political scenario in this part of the world has increased, to a significant extent, the mystifying power of those Maoists who are carrying on an 'armed struggle' against the state. Of course their sole aim is to capture and erect a new bureaucratic military machinery which resembles the old ready made state machinery in all fundamental aspects, and to clear the way for the further development of capitalism in the backward countries.
Political parties like the BJP, Janata, etc. are the right hand of capital, and parties like the Stalinists, Trotskyists, Socialists and Maoists are the left hand of capital. Both are serving capital in different ways as the right hand and left hand of any human being serve the same body in different ways. The working class has to be clear that in any conflict for power among the political parties of the right and left of capital, it cannot take sides. Its only task is to launch, intensify, extend and unify its class struggle against all attacks on its living and working conditions and against all the factions and political parties of capital.