For Coali­tion With Cong, Only CPM Party Congress Can Re­verse Pol­icy

There is a groundswell of sup­port for the Left Front-Congress com­bine in West Ben­gal to en­sure that the anti-Tri­namool Congress vote does not get split, says CPM’s gen­eral sec­re­tary Si­taram Yechury. In an in­ter­view to & he says the CPM’s 2015 party con­gre

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Who do you ex­pect to win in West Ben­gal – the Congress-Left Front al­liance or Tri­namool Congress? All I can say is that there is a fight, which was not the case in the last few rounds of elec­tions in­clud­ing the lo­cal bod­ies. This time around there is a fight…If there is a free and fair elec­tion, I think the TMC will face a de­feat.

What about Ker­ala? Will it be the Congress-led al­liance or the CPM-led al­liance? The CPM-led al­liance. I am fairly sure in Ker­ala this time the CPM is go­ing to form the gov­ern­ment.

Isn’t there a con­tra­dic­tion in team­ing up with the Congress in West Ben­gal and fight­ing against it in Ker­ala? There is no con­tra­dic­tion at all be­cause there is no po­lit­i­cal al­liance or un­der­stand­ing with the Congress in West Ben­gal. It’s not like the lead­er­ship of these two par­ties are meet­ing and shak­ing hands and say­ing let’s go to­gether. What is hap­pen­ing in Ben­gal is an ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion. There is a big up­surge from be­low, where peo­ple are forc­ing a non-di­vi­sion of the anti-Tri­namool vote.

If such is the up­surge from be­low, then why not have a for­mal al­liance? The point is the CPM party congress much be­fore elec­tions had adopted a po­lit­i­cal res­o­lu­tion which said clearly that Well, these are mat­ters that we will dis­cuss when the sit­u­a­tion arises... As I told you, no al­liance, no un­der­stand­ing with the Congress. It is a de­ci­sion of the party congress, which only the next party congress can change. No­body else has any au­thor­ity to change. So that re­mains. That we will see as and when the sit­u­a­tion emerges.

How will the CPM party congress re­spond to such pres­sures from be­low when it meets next? At the time of the Emer­gency also we sup­ported the Janata party gov­ern­ment from out­side. This is an in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty right of the CPM, if we can call it that — ‘out­side sup­port’.

For the first time, the CPM’s state sec­re­tary in West Ben­gal is con­test­ing the polls. Why isn’t the same thing hap­pen­ing in Ker­ala? Again, (due to) the ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion in Ben­gal. Nor­mally, state sec­re­taries do not con­test an elec­tion be­cause party or­gan­i­sa­tion is im­por­tant. But in Ben­gal, Sur­jya Kanta Mishra has emerged as the face of the op­po­si­tion in the last five years and in a sense sym­bol­ises what is hap­pen­ing in Ben­gal. So, the party thought that his be­ing in the fray is im­por­tant.

Who is Sur­jya Kanta’s coun­ter­part in Ker­ala? Who among Pi­narayi Vi­jayan and VS Achuthanandan is the face of the Op­po­si­tion in the state? The face is al­ways that of the CPM ham­mer and sickle. And then there are in­di­vid­ual faces. Pi­narayi Vi­jayan also emerged as a peo­ple’s sym­bol… the huge jattha from north to south was led by him. All the is­sues that were raised, all the al­ter­na­tive poli­cies that we sug­gested…he was there. VS Achuthanandan is the leader of the Op­po­si­tion…for what he is and his con­tri­bu­tion for decades…he is a very re­spected fig­ure who is con­sis­tent with his po­si­tion on po­lices and po­lit­i­cal moral­ity, anti-cor­rup­tion, etc. So both are the faces and the col­lec­tive face of the party.

Why isn’t Bud­dhadeb Bhat­tachar­jee cam­paign­ing? There are still five phases to go. Bhat­tachar­jee is very much there. He is the one who is the big­gest in­put provider in terms of the con­tent of the cam­paign, the man­i­festo. He will come for­ward at the ap­pro­pri­ate time.

With the emer­gence of new forces such as Aam Aadmi Party and var­i­ous Dalit groups, does the Left need to rein­vent it­self? I would not say rein­vent as it sug­gests a new­born. But the Left has to adapt. That I be­lieve is the life­line phi­los­o­phy of Marx­ism. Con­crete anal­y­sis of con­crete con­di­tions – that is the essence. As the con­crete con­di­tions keep chang­ing, if our anal­y­sis does not change, I per­son­ally think, then you are not a Marx­ist…A process of churn­ing has been set in mo­tion...A cou­ple of years ago you would have said that there was no youth be­hind the Left. Now you see Kan­haiya in JNU, Ro­hith in Hy­der­abad, what’s hap­pen­ing in FTII, what’s hap­pen­ing in Al­la­habad Univer­sity, a girl stu­dent from the Left was elected stu­dents’ union chief.

Is the AAP tak­ing over the Left space and is Left get­ting less and less at­trac­tive? It is not a ques­tion of Left be­ing at­trac­tive. It is a ques­tion of Left’s abil­ity to take its un­der­stand­ing to the peo­ple. AAP says the same things that the Left says on many is­sues, but they had the or­gan­i­sa­tional abil­ity in places like Delhi to ac­tu­ally carry it to the peo­ple, in so­cial me­dia through us­age of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. We were lag­ging in these things…but we have been work­ing on so­cial me­dia. We have been late, I ad­mit. But, now we are a force in so­cial me­dia. You can­not miss us. It will im­prove fur­ther.

Are you sur­prised by how Rahul Gandhi has come up re­cently? He has sur­prised every­body. Let’s see. He has got to work and han­dle ac­tual sit­u­a­tions. It all de­pends as his mother is still there in com­mand of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Do you think Naren­dra Modi is as pop­u­lar as he was when he be­came prime min­is­ter? I doubt it. Apart from en­gi­neered and pro­pa­ganda things, I do not know. Even if you con­sider Delhi and Bi­har (re­sults) as one-off things, he is not able to evoke the same kind of re­sponse we saw in 2014. And I would say, such a rapid de­cline is very sur­pris­ing. I have never seen it hap­pen in less than two years.

Are al­liances of the sort we have seen in Bi­har the way for­ward? The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is evolv­ing very rapidly. It’s sim­i­lar to what hap­pened dur­ing the last months of the Emer­gency. It may not yet be fully sim­i­lar but is mov­ing in that di­rec­tion…there was a gen­eral pub­lic dis­con­tent that was con­sol­i­dated. The at­tacks on the uni­ver­si­ties, the ques­tion of in­tol­er­ance, the ques­tion of the at­tacks on mi­nori­ties and the hang­ings in Jhark­hand… and there are var­i­ous things that the Hin­dutva out­fits are mount­ing in dif­fer­ent places…in that man­ner re­sent­ment or re­sis­tance to that is de­vel­op­ing. In that process there is a very deep churn­ing tak­ing place. That’s why what you would have nor­mally never ex­pected in Bi­har – the Ma­ha­gath­band­han – hap­pened. Not only pure he­do­nis­tic po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions of lead­er­ship…ev­ery lead­er­ship also re­alises the pres­sure from be­low. You have seen what hap­pened in Delhi. What­ever be the method­ol­ogy of AAP, there was also groundswell.

Why has your party congress been re­luc­tant even when re­sults have been favourable? In our fi­nal anal­y­sis, whether it was the 1977 gov­ern­ment, the ’89 VP Singh gov­ern­ment , the ’96 UDF gov­ern­ment or the 2004 UPA gov­ern­ment, even­tu­ally the poli­cies they fol­lowed were po­lices we con­sid­ered were not in the in­ter­est of the peo­ple of this coun­try. So, with each one of them, the rup­ture came, and it came on the ba­sis of their vi­o­la­tion of the com­mon min­i­mum pro­gramme. Would this “vi­o­la­tion” have hap­pened had the CPM been part of the gov­ern­ment? That is spec­u­la­tion. That is pre­cisely what we want to pro­tect our­selves from. If you are al­ready part of the gov­ern­ment, then you are co-opted by them.

Turn­ing to Hy­der­abad and JNU cases…ABVP says that Jai Bhim (Ambed­karite) groups in cam­puses are a proxy for Left­ist ide­ol­ogy for a so­cial engi­neer­ing… That is their fan­ci­ful think­ing.

What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween Lal Salaam and Jai Bhim? Is

the univer­sity cam­pus emerg­ing as a meet­ing ground? Jai Bhim is some­times in­ter­preted ex­clu­sively for the Dalit rights. Lal Salaam is what we say…that those very Dalit rights can only be en­force­able if you also en­sure eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment of Dal­its. And that will re­quire a so­cial trans­for­ma­tion. That’s where the meet­ing point is emerg­ing. Jai Bhim and Lal Salaam should com­bine with the slo­gan of In­quilab Zind­abad. That is the con­ver­gence be­tween the Left and the Dalit groups.

Do you feel Kan­haiya and Ro­hith have given a fresh lease of life to the Left? They were also the prod­uct of move­ment it­self. Ro­hith was a prod­uct of this con­ver­gence that we are talk­ing about. And so is Kan­haiya. He is also the part of the churn­ing that is go­ing on. And that churn­ing is very, very good and very pos­i­tive for the coun­try. What the Left wants is give the churn­ing a right di­rec­tion lest it dis­si­pates into the wrong di­rec­tion.

Churn­ing is also hap­pen­ing among the work­ing class…Who would have imag­ined INTUC, BMS would join the Left-af­fil­i­ated unions for a na­tion­wide strike?

AMRENDRA JHA

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