Agenda for the opposition: Move from ‘Reliance’ to ‘Self- Reliance’

Every Ramesh and Riffat appears to be convinced that Opposition in India doesn’t have an agenda than “Modi Hataao” or “BJP Hataao”. But there is a concrete alternative for them to fight for

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI

NH Web Desk

Reproduced here is a post from social media, put up by An Observer With An Opinion:

Even Nitish Kumar cited the alleged absence of an agenda why he believes Narendra Modi is unbeatable in 2019. The uncharitable may, however, say that what Nitish Kumar really meant was that the Opposition would fail because it didn’t choose him as a consensus candidate against Modi.

The Bihar chief minister may have been influenced by the high voltage campaign of the BJP and the Government against Congress, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mamata Banerjee, raids against P. Chidambaram, infighting in Left parties and the past history of Mayawati, Navin Pattnaik and Sharad Yadav and Mamata aligning with the BJP in the past.

It would also seem as if Lalu Prasad Yadav is the last mass leader standing, with his strong mass base, his undeniable fight for Mandal and consistent stand against Kamandal setting him apart from others. Luckily for the opposition, the Rashtriya Janata Dal is not a one-man party. Nor is it a party of only Yadav leaders. It has several leaders like Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Jagadanand Singh and Ramchandra Purbey among others, who can rally people and retain the fighting spirit and ideological strength of Social Justice and Secularism to fight the RSS and its ideology.

Although Secularism and Social Justice may sound like clichés, they do constitute a substantial agenda by themselves. Protection of the basic tenets of our Constitution and upholding the fundamentals of the civil contract between citizens and the Government of the country is no mean task in the face of the very real threat to them from the RSS-BJP combine

But then the opposition also needs an economic roadmap. Mere slogans of Garibi Hatao and a handful of targeted welfare schemes or doles will not do. A common minimum programme must be worked out and those who don't agree had better be kept out of the struggle altogether so that they don't Nitish (Ditch) the alliance later on at some crucial juncture.

The opposition must also remember the achievements of the past; the strong surge of assertion of the rights of the oppressed through Babasaheb Ambedkar's inspiration and Constitution of India, through reservation for SCs, STs ,BCs and minorities.

The country sought to ensure equality, justice and dignity through institutions like the National Commission for Human Rights, Minorities, SCs and STs, and Women, many with parallel ministries. Transparency and probity were sought to be achieved through Central and State Information Commissions and Lok Ayuktas.

The goal of planned equitable development was sought to be achieved through Tribal Sub Plans, special component plans for STs and SCs, Gender Budgeting for Women etc. via the Planning Commission. The country undoubtedly had been moving towards more and more equality and socio-economic justice by upholding the rights of the oppressed majority in the country till 2014.

By abolishing the Planning Commission and weakening these institutions and mechanisms, the BJP government is empowering the forces of reaction against progressive thought, which suits the imperialist, hegemonic neo-colonial and neoliberal ideology of the capitalist West, notably the US and the European Union for whom India has become a grazing ground, a market to exploit.

It is a cruel irony , and not unplanned by the haves against the have nots, that when our public sector was flourishing, there was no reservation for Backward Castes and most vacancies reserved for SCs and STs could not be filled because there were not enough people found among those categories to fill up the posts.

And by the time the deprived began to get educated and laid their claim to these jobs, the public sector began to be privatised. We are now seeing a fresh squeeze on Govt funded education after deliberately discrediting it , so that once again the oppressed are deprived of opportunities.

Lateral entry into the elite services at top levels and setback to reservations in promotions are other means by which those needing social justice are thwarted from full participation in nation building. All this needs to be corrected and crony capitalism leading to “Reliance” rather than “Self-Reliance” has to be put an end to.

Procurement, storage, preservation and distribution of food grains, pulses, edible oil and vegetables for ensuring fair prices to farmers and nutrition at affordable prices to the poor must be ensured and FCI, SFCs and the PDS will have to be strengthened and reinvigorated.

Unnecessary export or import of foodstuff, ostensibly for tiding over seasonal or short-term surpluses or shortages, are actually designed to push up profit of businessmen and politicians out of these transactions. They throw farm economy totally out of gear and must therefore be avoided at all costs and the speculative future trading in foodgrains must stop. Organic food has to be brought back and standards of purity in foodstuffs has to be maintained.

In any case, the ordinary consumer has to either tighten his belt or loosen his purse due to artificial shortages created by such sharks who make a quick buck by hiking prices while taking advantage of the lack of regulatory control on the marketing of grains and foodstuff. This has been compounded by the impotence and dilution of the Essential Commodities Act against hoarding and black marketing.

  • Restore Nehruvian Socialism and rebuild the welfare state
  • Restore mixed economy
  • Stop privatization of scarce resources
  • Professionalise the public sector
  • Bring back defence production to the public sector
  • Ensure land reforms, implement tillers' rights and ensure minimum agricultural wages
  • Raise procurement prices in keeping with the inputs and market prices.
  • Stop forward trading in foodstuffs
  • Waiver of farm loans
  • Recovery of NPAs from corporates
  • Streamline GST and Aadhar and put in place checks and balances
  • Restore the Planning Commission, Tribal Sub-Plan, SCP etc.
  • Make Electoral/Political Party funding totally transparent and taxable
  • Provide basic public funding of elections so that good candidates can come forward and gradually end funding of political parties by corporates
  • Freeze emigration of technically trained Indians to other countries, be they doctors, dentists , engineers, IT professionals, nurses, physiotherapists, CAs or management professionals till India’s own requirements of technically qualified personnel have been fully met
  • Freeze Reservations where they are and strictly implement creamy layer provisions
  • Radically increase funding of public health and education at all levels
  • Curb private rent collection by health and education mafia
  • Allocate areas of enterprise in a planned way to the private sector and help them achieve targets or declare bankruptcy
  • Stop unplanned urbanisation
  • Restore primacy to agriculture animal husbandry, dairying, poultry farming, food processing, food preservation, Khadi and Village Industries in situ in villages
  • Provide solar energy, clean water, sanitation, proper health and education services, communication and transport connectivity to all villages
  • Restore the concept of Community Development Blocks and give primacy to them
  • Fully operationalise Panchayati Raj and give more autonomy to local self - government institutions
  • Strictly regulate mining, logging , drilling and exploitation of underground undersea and overground natural resource
  • Reform and regulate Banking Insurance IT Telecom and Industries sectors
  • Work for growth with Justice

In short, blind LPG - Liberalisation , Privatisation, Globalisation - resorted to under pressure from selfish and cunning developed nations of the capitalist world and their tools the Bretton Woods Institutions like the World Bank and IMF do not suit us or other developing and underdeveloped countries. They have led to the ruin of most of Africa,South and Central America, and many small island nations across the globe.

We need to rebuild and lead South- South cooperation. Within the country , distributive justice has to be restored to its primacy over blind growth. Otherwise , we can forget about progress because nothing can save this highly divided country of starving and dehumanised millions from atomisation and destruction , which would be a catastrophe of global dimensions. This is the only alternative to violent revolution and suicidal wars.

How’s that for an Agenda, India?

Wake up from your ‘saffron’ and smell the coffee or chai !”

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Published: 17 Aug 2017, 11:04 AM