Communist Party of India-Marxist says it is ready to forge a front with Congress in Parliament on issues like land bill and secularism but ruled out being part of a national front or alliances outside because “they are not credible”.
Sitaram Yechury, the newly-elected general secretary of the party, acknowledges that the coming assembly elections in Bihar would be a litmus test for anti-Bharatiya Janata Party forces and would wait and watch how the merger of Janata Parivar evolves in deciding their strategy.
The leader of the CPI-M, whose party joined Sonia Gandhi-led protest march to Rashtrapati Bhavan on the land acquisition bill, said the party’s first emphasis is to strengthen itself.
“Inside Parliament, we have said we will unite on all these issues (like land bill), issue to issue which we think are not in the interests of the country and the people.
“Outside Parliament, our party has said that the projection of a front at the national level, with many of these regional parties, is not tenable at the moment because such a front has to have a policy alternative, which as a whole, we think, in the present situation cannot emerge,” Yechury said.
He was replying to a question as to what will be CPI-M’s stand on tying up with Congress and other parties to take on BJP, especially after the new-found camaraderie under Congress president Gandhi.
The 63-year-old parliamentary party leader, who has a reputation of practising pragmatic politics, said that Rahul Gandhi’s recent campaign on issues like land bill is good.
“But right now there is no coherent alternative the Congress is offering. Now we will have to wait and see the next important thing that will come,” he said, adding the GST Bill and the labour law reforms the government is trying to push can be a new area of opportunity for joint action.
Asked whether he was ruling out a front with Congress now because there are no immediate elections, Yechury said the elections are four years away.
“But secondly, what is the policy alternative which we believe is better for the country. There is disagreement. What has been the past experience? We have self-criticised ourselves for giving the alternative secular government slogan in 2009 saying that it was a wrong slogan.”
To a question whether CPI-M would insist on a pre-election Common Minimum Programme for understanding or tie-ups, he said, “Our emphasis will be first to strengthen ourselves. When elections come in various states, we will talk in terms of seat-sharing. But there will be no fronts or alliances because they are not credible.”
Asked about working with Congress, he said that was ruled out because of the economic policies followed by the party, which gave rise to discontent on which BJP rode to power.
“So, that sort of a policy framework of going with the Congress is ruled out. Yes, there are threats to the secular democratic foundations of our country and very grave threats are now coming.
“On those issues of maintaining our country’s social harmony and strengthening secular democratic foundations of the Indian republic which are under attack from RSS-BJP, on issue-to issue, we will join all secular forces in Parliament mainly. Outside, our energies will be more directed to strengthening ourselves.”
To a question about the decline of the Left forces including CPI-M after the 2009 elections and whether snapping ties with the United Progressive Alliance on the Indo-US nuclear deal was a mistake, Yechury initially said “no” but corrected himself later.
“We have said that this was not the issue (to withdraw support). It should have been a people’s issue like price rise and the UPA abandoning the ‘aam aadmi’ perspective.
“And it was also the timing (of withdrawal) for which we also self-criticised. But the issue of (opposing) the nuclear deal, we have no regrets and we think is correct.”
Yechury said by going ahead with the nuclear deal, it was a signal that the UPA wanted to jettison the Left.
He said the Indo-US nuclear deal was not part of the CMP but there was “tremendous pressure on India to be a subordinate ally of the US strategic interests in the world.
We have been vindicated on this”.
On the direction given by the CPI-M Congress recently in Vishakhapatnam where he was elected the general secretary, Yechury said, “CPI-M is the party of the future and we have to emerge that way.”
He said for the next three years, the party’s primacy is to first arrest the decline, then regain and then restore people’s confidence in it.
The party has decided to do organisational revamping and intends to substantially improve its independent strength and do political intervention on policy matters.
The next task, he said, is of uniting the Left which is dispersed among various parties, many of whom operate at the state levels.
“We have to unite these Left parties and a large section of non-party sympathisers and intellectuals to a common agenda. Through this, we will seek the unity of Left and democratic forces to present a policy alternative to counter the ruling classes.”
Image: CPI-M's new General Secretary Sitaram Yechury hopes to arrest the decline of the Left and restore people's confidence it in. Photograph: SnapsIndia