CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury elaborates on his thoughts over seat sharing in Tamil Nadu, his party’s position on the third front and the BJP, among others. Edited excerpts:
When will the CPI(M) conclude seat-sharing talks with the DMK for the Assembly election?
Well, talks are on. It is essentially on the number of seats that each one will contest. But I think it will be completed by tomorrow [Monday] or the day after.
DMK’s allies appear to have reluctantly settled for fewer seats, citing the need to fight the BJP. Is such a compromise necessary?
Well, this is not really a compromise because it is a political understanding that in today’s situation in the country, the paramount objective is to ensure that the BJP does not hold the reins of any government. [This is] because of the experience in the last six years of how they are destroying everything guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, including independent Constitutional authorities.
Beginning with Parliament itself, on how all of them are being undermined — Parliament, the judiciary, the Election Commission, the CBI, the ED, and the last two are being used as political instruments by the State. And at the same time, the sort of economic policy that they are pursuing, enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor; the polarisation that they are working towards and the brazen anti-Constitutional laws that they are bringing in.
Look at love jihad, which is anti-Constitutional — every individual, who is an adult, has the right to choose his/her life partner. Now, that is being denied. So, what they are doing actually is creating a new India.
The character of the Indian Republic is being changed. That is not in the interest of the country or the people. So, defeating them is the primary political objective. So, it is not a compromise. It is about the best way you defeat them. There has to be a give and take by everybody.
There may be some dissatisfaction with the number of seats because never before would the CPI(M) have contested in such few seats. But a large number of forces are also coming together. Everybody has to be accommodated.
Did the Left parties fail to see the emergence of the BJP and Modi as a political behemoth?
No. In fact, the sad part is that we had been warning, but the others failed to take it seriously. Now they are. If you remember, it was the Left that had insisted way back in 1996 when the BJP emerged as the single largest party under Mr. Vajpayee… that it cannot be allowed in India’s interest. Unfortunately, our apprehensions of the BJP and Modi behemoth have become all the more reconfirmed after Gujarat.
That is what is going to happen in the country if they are in office.
Why is the Left, once synonymous with the third front, not pursuing an alternative front in Tamil Nadu?
See, the question is that at a time of intense polarisation, no third front is actually sustainable because the people are divided between two polarised political groupings. In such a situation, the point is that you want to save India for the time and for the immediate agenda.
Let us be very clear. The BJP is a political agent of the RSS. It is a political arm of the RSS. The RSS all along believed and believes today more strongly that India is a monolithic Hindu state. And which is rapidly intolerant and fascist in its nature. And that is what they want to transform India into. It means this Constitution has to go if that has to come.
What we see now is that process… they are undermining the Constitution. So, the third front right now is not a viable option. The point is to have maximum unity among secular and democratic forces.
But you support the third front in West Bengal…
That is because of the concrete assessment of the situation. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of treating politics as arithmetic.
But politics is based on ground realities. In West Bengal, the anti-incumbency against the Trinamool government is very, very high.
Is there a need for a national alliance to take on the BJP? If so, who should lead it?
See, who will lead will depend on, again, the people’s support. Today, the principal Opposition party in the country is Congress. The Left and… the regional parties also have an important role. So you will have to bring together all these forces. What you require is an alternative programme, an alternative policy.
The Congress and the DMK have been pushed to declare that they are not opposed to Hinduism? Does this reflect that the BJP has succeeded in pushing them to a corner on the Hindutva plank?
No, Hinduism and Hindutva are different things. In fact, the person who coined the term Hindutva, Savarkar, makes it explicitly clear that Hindutva has nothing to do with Hindu religiosity. Hindutva is a political project. And the political project of Hindutva is exactly the RSS’ vision of a Hindu State or a Hindu country.
Sometimes, some people fall prey to soft Hindutva. The more they talk about soft Hindutva, the more they are strengthening the hard Hindutva.
So that is the danger I think many parties are realising.
Do you think the BJP’s ‘Vetrivel Yatra’ will have an effect on Hindus?
You see, may be momentarily, they would have had some sort of a fleeting effect. But, in the final analysis, that hypocrisy is also exposed.
Do you think that the Election Commission will succeed in curbing the distribution of money to voters in Tamil Nadu this time?
Well, we hope they succeed. The Election Commission has been lenient and very porous in many of its decisions that helped the ruling party.
And we hope that it will not be so [this time] and we hope that they will be successful in catching the money power that is distorting democracy in our country.
(For full interview, visit http://bit.ly/Yechury)