Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary D. Raja speaks to The Hindu about his party’s decision to be part of Mahagatbandhan, the decline of the CPI in Bihar and opinion polls.
In 1995, the CPI had 26 seats, it was the fourth biggest party in the Bihar Assembly and now you are reduced to fighting six seats. How do you explain such a decline?
It is true, we used to win a good number of seats in the State Assembly and Parliamentary elections. Over the years, many developments have taken place. It is not only an issue that is staring at the Left in Bihar. But we continue to be force to reckon with, especially when it is about protecting the interests of the people, particularly the poor and marginalised sections. We are a force to shape the political discourse. As far as our decline is concerned, we could not be part of a viable coalition for various reasons. But now things are different, we are part of Mahagatbandhan and provide a viable alternative in Bihar.
Why did the CPI decide to join the Mahagatbandhan?
Earlier, when Lalu Prasad Yadav was Chief Minister, we fought Assembly and Parliamentary elections together. It was only [for the] last general elections, despite our efforts, we could not reach an alliance. Similarly, in 2015 also, we could not have an alliance. But now, taking into consideration the situation in the country and Bihar, we came to the conclusion that the primary objective must be to defeat the BJP and its allies. All secular democratic forces need to come together for this goal. Now, the BJP-RSS combine has posed a grave threat to the Constitution, democratic polity of our country and secular fabric of our society. Our country and the Constitution need to be saved. This election will have larger ramifications in the future political course of the country as a whole.
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You are a Communist leader who comes from a Dalit family. Do you believe this election sees an end to the Mandal-Kamandal era?
The Bihar election will be the beginning and rebuilding of the assertion of Dalits, backward classes and marginalised sections. The BJP has become too aggressive to promote their neo-liberal agenda. They are trying to hand over the whole economy to private hands. It means the government is abdicating all its responsibility. As far as caste-based politics is concerned, what is caste-based politics? What happened in Hathras? In India, we have a caste system, which is why B.R. Ambedkar gave a call for ‘annihilation of caste’. It is a long-drawn battle against caste system and patriarchy, which we will continue to fight.
The opinion polls are indicating a huge lead for the NDA in the Assembly elections. Your comments?
No opinion poll seems to be objective; the ground reality is that the Mahagatbandhan has already emerged as the number one option of the voters. There is a huge anti-incumbency [mood]. And this anti-incumbency is not against Nitish Kumar alone, the BJP also faces it. They too have to share the blame. The BJP-JD(U) [government]was a failure, they failed to develop the State and now the people are looking for change.