Prominent opposition leader and CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury. DH Photo
Gujarat election results have given a new lifeline to the opposition with Congress performing impressively in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prominent opposition leader and CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who is in West Bengal, spoke to Shemin Joy over phone.
How do you analyse Gujarat election results?
There was big discontentment among the people of Gujarat. However, that could not be translated into a vote against the BJP. There was sharp communal polarisation. Everybody else other than BJP was portrayed as pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu force. It is clear that whatever be the discontent among people, merely exposing and criticising policies that created this discontent is not sufficient. To gain the confidence of people, you need to project an alternative policy. The country does not need a 'neta' (leader), but 'neeti' (policy).
What is your take on CPM's victory in Himachal?
We managed to win one seat there and that is significant. There was communal polarisation and anti-incumbency. We won in Theog where we gained the confidence of people through our work.
What positive effect will Gujarat results have on Opposition unity?
I think the take away is that the Opposition has to get together with an policy alternative. It can't be Modi vs Rahul. Indications (about a paradigm shift) are sufficient. But that will materialise only through a policy alternative.
Do you see it as a vote against economic policies being pursued by the government?
The discontent among people is the reflection of Modi's economic policies. But the fact that the discontent did not translated into a vote against him is the reflection of absence of an alternative economic policy.
Congress was seen as adopting soft Hindutva line during campaigning. How do you see this?
It's an electoral opportunism, they might have done so. The main thing is that the campaign was that Congress is a pro-Muslim party. Soft Hindutva line does not make any sense. It will not gel with the people. The only way to beat BJP is to give a policy alternative to the people.