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'We want Obama to hear what we say'

November 07, 2010 11:19 IST
While the Left will listen to what Barack Obama says in Parliament on Monday, he should also listen to our concerns, says CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury.

The Left parties will stage a countrywide protest on November 8, when United States President Barack Obama's State visit begins in New Delhi.

The Left has identified five issues to be highlighted: Justice for the Bhopal gas disaster victims; stop pressuring India on foreign policy; open up agriculture and retail trade; the defence framework agreement; and the US embargo on Cuba.

As the first African-American President elected after the neo-conservative George W Bush regime, there were expectations of positive changes from Obama, but these did not occur, Left leaders said.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist says its MPs will not boycott Obama's address in Parliament on Monday evening.

Senior CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury explains his party's stand in this conversation with Rediff.com contributor Ufaque Paikar.

The Left has planned countrywide protests, why then are you attending Obama's address in Parliament? Why not a complete boycott?

Because we want to hear what he wants to say and, in the same way, we want him to hear what we have to say.

Is it an attempt to revive lost political ground in West Bengal and elsewhere?

Nonsense! It (US policies) has been our concern, irrespective of any other consideration in India. We have constantly opposed unfair policies. It is completely unconnected with anything else.

RSP (Revolutionary Socialist Party) General Secretary T J Chandrachoodhan says Obama has 'explicitly not done any aggression on any other nation and he won't be welcoming any suggestions from the Left?'

Will this weaken the impact of your protests? Why is the Left not unanimous in its appeal?

The Left parties have different opinions; we are not in the same party. If we did not have different opinions, we would be in the same party. And no, it it won't weaken the impact.

Your ally MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) leader Vaiko has appealed to you to call off the opposition...

Opposition in the sense that we will raise issues of concern, and those that bother the progressive people of the world. We want Obama to hear this viewpoint.

When he addresses Parliament, we will hear him out. He should also hear what our concerns are.

Vaiko will surely understand that we have a point of view.

Would you have done the same had you been in an alliance with the Congress party?

Our stand would have been the same.

Why does the Left want the US embargo on Cuba lifted? How is it connected to India?

Because it is unfair and unjust. Why should there be an embargo on any country?

In a democratic world you cannot impose any condition on a country like this.

You oppose the US's capitalist policies, but your party's policies in West Bengal are more or less the same. Is it not?

No, they are not.

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Ufaque Paikar