'During Amit Shah's recent visit to Kerala, the strategy of concentrating the attacks on the CM on false charges was clear enough.'
Kerala is crucial for the Communist Party of India-Marxist as it is the only state it is in power.
The good news for the party is that opinion polls suggest that Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front will come back to power and create history in a state that has been alternating between the LDF and the UDF.
The last time a front was re-elected in the state was in 1977!
"What was most important in the approach of this government was not to get diverted by the politically motivated attacks," Brinda Karat, the firebrand CPI-M politburo member, tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.
The first of a two-part interview.
You are back in Delhi after visiting the poll-bound states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Are you happy that the opinion polls are giving the LDF government in Kerala a clear advantage?
What do you think Pinarayi Vijayan did right this time?
We do not really go by opinion polls, but yes, I am happy that we are going into the electoral battle with a solid record of achievements by the LDF government led by Pinarayi Vijayan.
What was most important in the approach of this government was not to get diverted by the politically motivated attacks but concentrate on addressing the issues of development at a time when Kerala has been ravaged by both natural calamities and the pandemic.
We have a chief minister who led from the front on every aspect of relief and pro-people policies like food security, higher pensions, cash transfers, and new initiatives of development.
Equally importantly, this was possible with a team of ministers and MLAs who worked unitedly 24 hours to help people tide over the crisis.
In contrast to the Modi government's policies of wrecking public education and health and sustainable development, the LDF government has a stellar record on public investment and new initiatives which for example, resulted in Kerala being the only state in the country where there was a 'reverse' migration of around six lakh students from private schools to free government schools, because of the facilities made available by the LDF government.
Even though the central government centralised resources depriving Kerala of finances, the LDF government raised funds through the KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board) to build houses for the homeless, develop roads.
Through the cable network KFON (Kerala Fibre Optic Network) the government has started the project to provide Internet facilities to free for BPL families and affordable for twenty lakh households so as to make new communication technologies available to those excluded from Modi's 'digital India' powered by private networks like Jio.
We succeeded in fulfilling, in spite of all the problems, most of the promises made in the election manifesto.
Real achievements, not jumlas!
For the last one year, the gold smuggling case has been making a lot of noise in Kerala with rumours floating that the Enforcement Directorate wanted the arrested lady to name the chief minister.
Do you think the CM will come out of this unscathed?
Pinarayi Vijayan has been the target of the most vicious personal attacks in a joint venture by the Bharatiya Janata Party manipulated central agencies, and the Congress-led UDF (United Democratic Front).
During Amit Shah's recent visit to Kerala, the strategy of concentrating the attacks on the CM on false charges was clear enough.
Earlier, the entire campaign during the local body elections was to use false and fake news and selective leaks to attack the CM.
But as the results showed, it did not succeed.
This time too, it will surely boomerang.
The NIA (National Investigation Agency), the supposedly premier agency for investigation, is on record that they could not find any political links in the gold smuggling case.
The exception is the arrest of an individual who has links to the BJP.
Recently, the most outlandish charges such as the customs department's affidavit on 'dollar smuggling' have been made.
Everyone knows that the timing of the so-called affidavit of an accused charging the CM, after the elections have been declared, is an electoral dirty trick.
The latest is the misuse of central agencies like the ED, the CBI to target in addition to the CM, all the development programmes undertaken by the LDF government.
This is also unprecedented.
Not only do such charges fall flat, they will surely enhance the image of the CM and the LDF, unflinching, in the face of vicious attack, to their commitment to Kerala through alternative policies.
Amit Shah and company are welcome to their personalised slanging campaign as they know no better.
The main campaign of the LDF is to highlight achievements and what is planned to build on the foundation laid.
From a strong political force, the Left is now reduced to ruling just one state in India.
What is the reason for this decline?
Is it because the Left has left its ideology and become just another political party?
If you go beyond electoral performances, then it cannot be denied that since 2014 when an extreme right wing fascistic and pro-corporate government of the BJP and RSS have seized the levers of power, it is the CPI-M and the Left in general which has taken an uncompromising stand in every sphere and fought and resisted their policies.
In every important struggle of the people, including the present farmers' struggle, the Left forces have been strong supporters and participants.
We have never compromised with soft Hindutva on secular values.
That is why 'Communists' remain the choicest abuse in the RSS-BJP political dictionary.
Our efforts are to expand our base through service, struggle and political campaigns.
You ruled West Bengal for decades, but today the fight to rule is between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP.
If the people of Bengal have abandoned you today, do you think you must have done something wrong in those many decades of ruling the state?
As far as electoral performance is concerned, we have seen a decline in Bengal and to a lesser extent in Tripura where we had led state governments in the past.
In Tripura we are fighting back in spite of BJP-led repression and gaining popular support.
As is well known, in Bengal in 2011, we faced a united combination against the Left front government from the extreme left to the extreme right including the BJP and the Sangh Parivar under the leadership of the TMC.
The only basis for that combination was to remove the Left Front government from power.
Today that opportunist combination has collapsed.
We have done a self-critical review.
In spite of the many historic achievements of the Left Front government, the mistakes made on the issues culminating in Nandigram triggered discontent among our own mass base in rural Bengal.
However our ability to win back our supporters after we suffered defeat, was gravely hampered by the most unprecedented and sustained political violence by the TMC in which hundreds of our comrades were martyred, in which thousands were displaced, over one lakh false cases filed against our workers, in which our women supporters faced sexual violence and threatened publicly with rape.
It is one of the most shameful chapters in India's democracy that these attacks on the CPI-M went unreported in the mainstream media.
This was the period in which an anti-Communist pogrom was under way, that the BJP and the RSS spread their network of shakhas using the power of the central government protection and patronage in Bengal.
I would say, it is because of the strong ideological base and commitment of the CPI-M and its cadre that we see a revival through huge mass mobilisations and struggles in Bengal.
Without strong ideology which is the main anchor, no party could have survived, as we did.
The BJP is trying to take advantage of the huge anti-incumbency against the TMC government today and its loot.
It is buying out TMC MLAs, showing the utter bankruptcy of the TMC's lack of ideology.
The combination led by the Left poses a democratic and secular alternative to both the TMC and the aggressive assault of the BJP to capture Bengal.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com