The selection of a suitable candidate for the President of India, to be elected in July 2012, has been one of the major preoccupations of the ruling circles of our country in recent weeks.
The issue has gained in importance because of the critical nature of the present political situation, and because of the important role and powers of the President especially in times of political instability, crisis and potential “emergency” situations.
The Presidential election comes at a time of all-round crisis of the existing system. The big bourgeoisie is impatient to move ahead with its program of reforms, which have stalled in the face of very broad and growing resistance among the people, along with opposition within the ruling coalition.
The anger of workers has been steadily rising against the soaring prices, violation of labour rights and intensification of their exploitation. A united workers’ opposition is gaining strength against the privatisation and liberalisation program. Workers in diverse sectors are opposing the proposed new law on pensions aimed at robbing the savings of the working class for the benefit of the capitalists. Bank workers are contesting the need for banks in our country to be driven solely by profit maximisation and “global competitiveness”.
Peasants and tribal peoples have been up in arms against the attempts of big capitalist corporations to grab their land, and the proposed new Land Acquisition Act that is designed to assist this land grab.
There is widespread opposition among workers, peasants and small traders to allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail trade.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after returning from the G-20 meetings, has hinted at tough measures ahead, to end the “policy paralysis”. There is already much talk about the deterioration of India’s balance of payments and fiscal situation, alongside the economic downturn. There are calls for “austerity measures”, meaning further attacks on the living standards of the toiling majority so as to rescue corporate profits.
The mass resistance to the capitalist-imperialist program is fuelling the further intensification of inter-capitalist contradictions. Rivalry among the big monopoly groups fuelled the exposure of one scam after another. Conflicts have intensified between the big monopoly capitalists and various regional bourgeois groups. Regional bourgeois groups are demanding their share and resisting the overriding dictate of the biggest monopoly companies. Various state governments are resisting the imposition of central dictate on many fronts.
The entire system of democracy and its political process is extremely discredited at this time, as are the principal parties in Parliament. In this context, the Communist Ghadar Party of India has been consistently pointing out that the fundamental flaw is that the supreme power, or sovereignty, is vested in the hands of a tiny clique. The Constitution proclaims it as rule by the people, while actually legitimising Cabinet Rule.
The necessity to end the self-serving rule of an exploiting minority and vest sopvereignty in their own hands is being recognised by more and more sections of workers, peasants and progressive intelligentsia.
Faced with all-round crisis and discredit of their much touted democracy, the big bourgeoisie is keen to select a tried and tested politician for the post of President during 2012-17, one who could restore some credibility to the existing system. The big business houses want a President who would facilitate the pursuit of their imperialist aims, help resolve internal conflicts within the capitalist class and also be able to justify fascist measures to suppress the people’s resistance.
The Constitution of India vests a wide range of powers in the hands of the President, including executive, legislative, judicial, financial and emergency powers. The exercise of these powers are subject to the overriding condition that the President is bound to follow the advice of the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) headed by the Prime Minister. The President may return a proposal to the Cabinet once, for reconsideration. If the same proposal is submitted again, he is bound to approve.
It would be wrong to conclude from this that the President is merely a rubber stamp. If the President returns a major Cabinet recommendation for reconsideration, such as the imposition of President’s Rule in a state or the proclamation of a National or Financial Emergency, it would precipitate an acute political crisis.
There are also particular times when the President exercises decision-making power on vital matters. When elections to Parliament results in no clear majority and there are contending claims, the President uses his judgment to decide which party to invite first to demonstrate its majority. If there is a deadlock between the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on any legislation, the President has the power to summon a joint session to resolve the dispute.
Taking into account the present situation and the turbulent times ahead, the big bourgeoisie has selected Pranab Mukherjee as the preferred candidate for the post of President. This is the reason that in spite of the initial hesitation of the Congress Party and the various alternative names proposed by regional parties, Mukherjee has emerged as the favourite in the race. This is not the result of the activities of political party leaders alone, as presented on TV news channels. It is primarily the result of the guiding hand of the big capitalists that operates behind the curtain.
As far as the working class, peasants and other working people are concerned, there is nothing to cheer in the selection of Mukherjee. He may be well educated and wise, but his knowledge and wisdom are not for the benefit of workers and peasants. He has a proven track record of having consistently served the capitalist monopoly houses of our country.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is playing a harmful role in this situation by responding positively to the call of the big bourgeoisie, and canvassing support for Mukherjee among its friends and allies.
Communists must strive to utilise the instability and crisis of bourgeois rule to the advantage of the working class and the cause of the revolution.
The Communist Ghadar Party is striving to utilise the present crisis to build unity around the aim and program of replacing the existing capitalist democracy with a superior system and political process. That superior system is proletarian democracy – a system in which supreme power will be in the hands of the working people, who will control those they elect, and who in turn will control the executive power. The relation between the Union and its constituents will be redefined on the basis of recognising the right of every nation, nationality and people to self-determination.
CPI(M) is doing exactly the opposite of what a Communist Party is duty bound to do. It is rushing to the assistance of the ruling bourgeoisie when it is in crisis. It is pursuing the treacherous road of embracing the capitalist-imperialist program and at the same time claiming to be defending workers’ and peasants’ interests.
The task of communists is not to help the bourgeoisie to stabilise its rule. It is to lead the working class and people to take supreme power out of the hands of the Cabinet and the President in Parliament, and vest it in their own hands, so as to bury capitalism and build socialism.