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January 22, 1998


Manifesto of the Left parties


  • A strong secular-democratic system.
  • A socially and economically just order for all oppressed sections.
  • Economic growth with equity.
  • Corruption free governance and accountability.

Communist Party of India-Marxist

Communist Party of India

Revolutionary Socialist Party

All India Forward Bloc


The people of India are once again called upon to elect a new Lok Sabha. This mid-term poll has been forced upon the country because of the unreasonable and senseless decision of the Congress to withdraw support to the United Front government.

We are currently observing the 50th anniversary of India's independence. At this juncture, the people have to decide how to strengthen the Republic and its secular-democratic basis which can meet the aspirations of all citizens.

The Indian Republic is facing a major challenge to its secular-democratic foundations. The very forces which sought to divide and disrupt the struggle for independence have once again reared their heads. The rise of the communal forces represents everything that is backward looking and reactionary in our society. Feudal elements who cannot reconcile to a democratic order, religious revivalists who feel threatened by a modern secular society, the richer classes who want to protect their privileges, are the forces behind the rise of the BJP. They have to be stopped if India is to remain a united and democratic country.

The Congress party has degenerated both politically and organisationally. It is a party in decline, as it has pursued when in power, economic policies which militate against the people; it betrayed the secular heritage by compromising with the communal forces and it is a party riddled with corruption. It is this dismal record of the Congress which led to its resounding defeat in the 1996 elections. Its attitude since then shows no redemption. The Congress is no more a party which can govern at the Centre or provide the country with a new agenda.

The United Front came into being at a time when a new alternative was required. An alternative to the discredited Congress and a firm secular response to the communal platform of the BJP. India will be governed by coalitions in the coming days. The question is, what type of coalition? The United Front has proved its worth as a united and stable coalition which represents the rich diversity of the people of India.

Left Platform

The Left parties played a crucial role in the formation and consolidation of the United Front. The Left parties while striving to strengthen the United Front and making it victorious, wish to present before the people their alternative policies and the way to make India a vibrant, democratic and just society.

The Left platform represents the aspirations of all sections of the working people, of all patriotic citizens who are committed to the fashioning of a society and economically just order. The Left is the guardian of the interests of the working people, it fights for economic policies which promote self-reliant growth, employment, equal opportunities and reduction of inequalities.

Secularism and Federalism: Cornerstones of Indian Unity

Secularism has been defined as a basic feature of the Constitution by the Supreme Court. This constitutional principle expresses the reality of the daily life and experience of the millions of Indians who live and work harmoniously together irrespective of caste, creed and religion. However, secularism has come under continuous assault by the forces represented by the BJP and its mentor, the RSS. There can be no compromise with those who wish to erode the secular basis of the State and the political system.

The Left parties will work for:

  • Legislation for separation of religion and politics.
  • Prohibition on use of religious issues for electoral purposes by political parties.
  • Reference of the Ayodhya dispute to the Supreme Court under Article 138(2) for a speedy judicial verdict.
  • Protection of the basic right of religious belief and practising one's religion.
  • Implementation of the "Protection of Places of Worship Act" which prohibits change of the character of religious places of worship after 1947.

Strengthen Federalism

The Left parties in contrast to the sectarian communal version of nationhood based on Hindutva, have an alternative vision to strengthen Indian unity. As against a highly centralised and undemocratic system of concentration of all powers at the Centre, federalism requires a reworking of Centre-state relations.

The Left parties will strive for:

  • Adequate powers to the states for decision-making in the economic and political spheres.
  • Strong states will result in a strong Centre. Constitutional amendments for devolving more powers to the states -- economic, fiscal and administrative.
  • Article 356 to be suitably amended so that the draconian power of the Centre to dismiss state governments is curbed and this power is exercised only in extreme contingencies where there is a direct threat to national unity or an onslaught on the secular basis of the State.
  • * Further activisation of the Inter-State Council and empowering the National Development Council with sufficient powers on planning.

Defend National Unity

It is essential to strengthen Indian unity by removing the feelings of alienation and neglect which has bred separatism in different parts of the country. Imperialism seeks to utilise such forces to advance its aim of weakening the unity of the country. Both in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern region, challenges to the unity of India exist. The Left parties have been in the forefront of championing the democratic aspirations of the peoples of diverse cultures and language groups in a federal setup as a basis for strengthening Indian unity.

The Left parties will continue to work for:

  • Maximum autonomy for the state of Jammu and Kashmir by maintaining Article 370 of the Constitution; regional autonomy to be provided to Jammu and Ladakh regions within this framework.
  • Negotiations to be conducted with all those groups in the North-East who are advocating separatism while firmly defending the integrity of the Indian Union.
  • Special provision for the development of the North-Eastern region with particular emphasis on infrastructure and development of employment opportunities.

Foreign Policy

The United Front government took some commendable initiatives to improve relations with India's neighbours and to resist pressures to sign the CTBT. In the new world situation where the United States and its Western allies seek to dominate the world, it is imperative that Indian foreign policy continues with its basic orientation embodied in the non-aligned policy. This means not succumbing to imperialist pressures which will undermine India's independent positions and harm its security interests.

In the area of foreign policy the Left parties will ensure that:

  • India is projected as an independent power which plays a constructive role in defending the interests of the third world and promoting South-South co-operation.
  • India does not sign any discriminatory treaty on nuclear weapons like the NPT or the CTBT.
  • Further steps are taken to strengthen and improve relations with South-Asian countries and promote SAARC co-operation. Special efforts to improve relations with Pakistan and promote people-to-people ties.
  • Relations with India's biggest neighbour, China, are strengthened and economic ties increased. Relations with Russia to be further strengthened.
  • The Indo-US military co-operation agreement is cancelled.
  • Nuclear weapons are removed from the US military base in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

Manifesto, continued