Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lok Rajniti Manch: why and how?

LRM is an outcome of various initiatives that have in the course of last several years tried to address a long felt need to forge a political instrument for people's movement. All these initiatives were rooted in the realization that all the popular struggles and movements in the country had a political dimension in so far as any attempt to bring about fundamental transformation in any aspect of the existing system acquired a political character. It requires an integral political outlook, an understanding of how the political system operates and can be tackled and some kind of a political instrument or vehicle.
The experience of peoples' movements also demonstrates that none of the mainstream political parties can be relied upon to do justice to the issues, demands and the energy of the peoples movements. Let alone becoming the vehicles of social transformation, most of the mainstream parties are deeply cut-off from the people and have become unaccountable centers of power. Even those mainstream parties that appear to take up people’s issues are no different from the rest whenever they are in power. Far from being a part of the solution, the political establishment of the country has become a central part of the problem itself. People feel helpless vis-à-vis political leaders and parties that operate in their name. Sometimes this helplessness drives them in the direction of violent and in the long-run self-destructive forms of protest.

This has resulted in a reversal of democratic possibilities in the country. While the 'third space' in politics has expanded, thanks to the energy unleashed by people’s movements, the political formations that seek to represent this space have shrunk. There have been many meaningful attempts outside the political mainstream to forge a political alternative, often an alternative of national political party. While these initiatives provide a useful starting point, they did not quite succeed in meeting their objectives. These initiatives have remained limited, localised and largely ineffective. None of these has succeeded in capturing the national political imagination. Hence the need for a new alternative expression of peoples politics.
LRM would address the following objectives:
1. Create a national level centre of alternative politics that can draw a wide spectrum of citizens, especially the youth, who are increasingly alienated from politics;
2. Provide a forum where various peoples movements can forge a shared understanding of the political implication of their struggles and work out a common political strategy and a political agenda;
3. Create a mechanism to identify, unite and strengthen the various organizations and initiatives all over the country that are already working towards forging an alternative politics;
Serve as an organizational vehicle for some joint political action or intervention in the political arena by people’s movements in the country.

These objectives and the past experience would suggest that LRM should be organized in the form of a loose confederation, an oragnisation of organizations (including some small political parties with a similar objective) and individuals. Its success depends upon it not becoming or being perceived as a supra-organization that can dictate all its constituents. A political front of this kind would undertake only a few activities, after considerable preparation and deliberation. But it is hoped that such activities would have a deeper imprint on the political landscape of the country than the many isolated attempts being made today.

In the next year or so, the LRM could undertake the following activities:
1. Prepare a people's manifesto, publicize it and develop a widespread consensus around it so as to put pressure on mainstream political parties to incorporate its main points;
2. Start a dialogue with peoples political movements, groups and parties about effective intervention in the next Lok Sabha elections
3. Work out ways (media expose, RTI, PIL etc) of exposing the character of parties and candidates representing the political establishment
4. Identify as many candidates as possible all over the country that can be extended support by the LRM as symbols of alternative politics
5. Launch a focused and visible struggle on one issue (SEZ is one such example) that exposes the anti people character of the entire political establishment.

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