'Divided opposition is a myth created by BJP'

'Divided opposition is a myth created by BJP'

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Sitaram Yechury has been re-elected as CPM general secretary after an intense inner-party struggle over the political line his party should take vis-a-vis the Congress in the fight against the BJP. He has managed to bring the party behind him though the issue of the relationship with the Congress remained a bone of contention for the past 10 months. Yechury spoke to DH's Shemin Joy on the present political situation.

* India is entering the election year. Where does the Opposition stand now?

A completely mistaken discourse is taking place now. An election is the summation of specifics and not an electoral monolith as a whole. Various parties have various degrees of influences in various parts of the country. It is region-specific and not country-specific. For example in Uttar Pradesh, if SP and BSP come together, neither the Congress nor the Left or anybody else is of much consequence. In Bihar, if the RJD and the Yadav-Muslim combination gel through various political processes, then others are not much of a consequence. In south India, apart from Karnataka, the Congress is not the major player. So, what is happening is actually a degree of coming together of various parties at the regional level. You saw the beginning in UP and the bypoll results. You also saw the bypoll result in Bihar. Same is the case with Karnataka. It will be a summation of all these things that are happening at the regional level.

* This brings us to the question of talks about a Federal Front. How is it different from what you are saying?

We must understand the Indian reality. You look at our own history. I am not going back to the times of Janata Party or V P Singh government. In 1996, the United Front (UF) government was formed after the elections. After the fall of Vajpayee government in 13 days, the UF was formed on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and the Left supported from outside. The Front itself was formed after the elections. In 2004, the UPA came into existence after the elections. There was no UPA before the elections. Again on the basis of a CMP, we extended our support from outside. So that is the Indian reality. It is not a mere historical trend.

* In such a scenario, who will take the leadership role? What role does the Congress have?

It depends on the post-election scenario. In 1996, the Congress lost the elections and therefore, it supported the UF from outside. The Congress could not enter the government through the back-door. They could not form the government because they did not get the majority. Therefore, others formed the government with the Congress supporting from outside. In 2004, the Congress was the single-largest party among the Opposition. So they led the government. It all finally depends on the numbers. Who will be the leader? It depends on the numbers one gets from the support they receive from people.

* Where does the CPM stand in the scheme of things?

The CPM's scheme of things goes much beyond elections. We are determined to further strengthen our party and our political intervention capacity. Our objective is to consolidate the CPM as a revolutionary party with a pan-Indian mass influence. We will work for strengthening the unity of Left forces and forge a unity of left and democratic forces to offer a policy alternative to the people. This will be done through unleashing national popular struggles.

We are clear that the RSS-BJP government has to be ousted. That was the main call of our Party Congress. We have said that we shall not enter into any political alliance with the Congress. That has been our historical truth. We were neither part of the UF or UPA governments. As I always said, we do not believe in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), but if at all there is IPR for outside support, it is the CPM's. The question of entering into an alliance does not exist. At the time of elections, appropriate electoral tactics will be worked out to maximise the anti-BJP votes. For example, in Karnataka, we are contesting 19 seats. We will support the candidates of Left parties wherever they have put candidates. Where the Left is not contesting, the call the party has given is to defeat the BJP. It could be the Congress or the JD(S), depending on the constituency. Then local party unit will decide. But the call is to defeat the BJP. That is one example. Similarly, we will work out our tactics.

* How does that political picture change with the CPM Party Congress now omitting a clause that said there should be no understanding with the Congress?

As far as post-poll arrangements are concerned, there can be absolute clarity that we can extend an issue-based support to a non-BJP government. The "no understanding" clause had left the ambiguity whether we will be able to support if the Congress is there. That is the takeaway from the Party Congress. That was a bone of contention for 10 months. In the pre-poll scenario, suppose we are going with a regional formation, which has an alliance with the Congress. I am looking at the possibility of a scenario of the past. I don't know about the future. The past is Tamil Nadu. We supported the DMK or the AIADMK depending on who is supporting the BJP. Now that particular party is already in an alliance with the Congress. So no understanding would have created problems. If we are making electoral adjustments with regional parties, the seats we fight, the seats Congress fights, there will be consultations. No understanding means no consultations. Now that ambiguity is also not there.

* Does it mean the doors are open for seat adjustments with the Congress in some states?

Now, it is all speculation. There are various possibilities. There could be, let's say, mutual no-contest. There won't be any joint campaigning. They won't be entering into any alliance. But say, we contest two-three seats. They don't put up a candidate. That is one possibility. I am not saying this will happen.

* The Opposition move to impeach Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Misra has been stone-walled. How do you see this situation?

One of the reasons why we are saying that this government should go is that the impunity with which they are destroying all Constitutional authorities and the mechanism that we had in place for seven decades. No confidence motion was not allowed to be tabled. Now, rejecting the impeachment motion outright, we think it is a gross irregularity. Because the presiding officer of the House does not have the right to decide on the merits of an impeachment motion. That can be done only after an enquiry by a three-member committee as laid down by the Constitution. That committee will give a report and if it says that the charges in the petition are untenable, then you reject it. But before going through that process and rejecting it is clearly not merely an overreach of authority but smacks of certain motives. Because once the enquiry committee is put in place and it begins the process, then morally the concerned judge does not have the right to be on a bench or hear a matter.

* Only seven of the 18 Opposition parties have signed the impeachment motion? Doesn't it show that the Opposition is divided?

Division in Opposition is again a myth created by the BJP. Where it matters, the opposition is united. The SP and BSP are united and it matters in Uttar Pradesh. The RJD did not sign. Will it stop the unity that is happening in Bihar against the BJP? This is also sort of a post-truth society being created. Like creating non-issues as issues of unity and disunity of the Opposition.

The CPM's Political Organisation Report placed in Party Congress had said that Tripura results show that the CPM's political, organisational and ideological fight against the RSS is “inadequate”. How do you overcome this?

The point is that the RSS cannot be defeated through elections alone. If that was the case, for 70 years after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, the RSS should have been a completely marginalised force. They would not have survived and come back with this sort of support. There has to be an ideological offensive against them. We also have to defeat their organisational methods. That can only be done through sharpening people mobilisation and struggles against what they espouse as well as their policies when they are in government. That is of first vital importance. Secondly, we need to actually counter their influence in various levels in which they spread their tentacles. They have a tentacle of organisations through which they continuously spread the virus of communalism. All that has to be combated at all levels.

Today, what is happening in our country. How else will you describe the child rapes and the gruesome murders? Nothing else can explain but the complete dehumanising of the Indian society. It is leading to such an irrational extent when even the lawyers are not taking up cases like it happened in Kathua. The ministers who are being sworn under oath of this very Constitution openly talk in terms of violation of the Constitution and protecting criminals. What is happening is an ideological attack of irrationality on rationality, it is an ideological attack of unreason on reason. Now, this has to be ideologically combated and defeated. Otherwise, mythology can be passed off as history. That is what they are doing.

You and I may think what Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb said is bad. But when people are subjected to such onslaught, they start accepting it. They are seeking to replace the syncretic Indian history with Hindu mythology, replace the rich pluralistic Indian philosophy with Hindu theology. Every single TV serial talks about obscurantism, religions and religiosity. You start believing the absurd. That is the real danger that has to be combated. They are seeking to replace the syncretic Indian history with Hindu mythology and replace the rich pluralistic Indian philosophy with Hindu theology.

* Another observation in the Political Organisation Report is that it is discouraging that the representation of Muslims, Dalits and youths in the CPM is declining. How do you address this issue?

What we mean by discouraging is the entry into the leadership positions. That is what is declining and not in terms of their numbers in the party. You should correct that distortion. They are coming in large numbers. You will find Dalits and Muslims in leadership positions at the lower level. But that is not reflected in the leadership at higher levels. It is not happening in the way we would want it to happen. We have two women and two Muslims in the Polit Bureau. But there are no Dalits. Why? As much as 70% of the leadership in states is with the Dalits and OBCs together. Sometimes it is 90% if you add Muslims to it. But the question is why they are not coming up? This is the serious question we will have to address. There are various reasons. One is the question of economic factor. As party whole-timers, how much we pay, whether they are in a position to maintain their family or not. Normally, the whole-timers come into this leadership positions. That is a serious point we will have to address. Otherwise, we will have this distortion. Why is it not reflected in the higher leadership? We will have to seriously address this issue. We have to see whether there are any other factors. The desire is that they have to come.

* There is a perception that though you have been re-elected, the central leadership is still stacked against you. How do you respond to this?

I don't see this in terms of a fight between numbers or who is on which side. The point is as a Communist, I have the conviction that my own committees and my own comrades will react to the objective situation. What is the objective situation? What is that we decided at Hyderabad? That is there in black and white. Now the question is to actually implement that, take it forward. Now in that, if anybody seeks to create a problem, there is no ambiguity left now. Therefore, with the clarity achieved in Hyderabad, I don't think there is any question of comrades being on this side or that side. That is why when people said you have won and they have lost, I said nobody has won, nobody has lost. Only the party has won. That is the bottom denominator. I sincerely believe the party has won.