Rafale is the Bofors moment for Modi: Yechury

Rafale is the Bofors moment for Modi: Yechury

Modi's refusal for a Rafale JPC an admission of guilt

Sitaram Yechuri
Cong will gain only if it is accommodative

CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury is one of the prominent Opposition leaders, who is part of the efforts to provide a single platform to take on Narendra Modi-led BJP. He believes Modi government is facing a credibility crisis and Rafale could be its Bofors moment. However, he warns Opposition that there is no point in parties coming together if they are doing it without a political narrative based on programmes.

Yechury spoke to DH's Shemin Joy. Excerpts:

The Narendra Modi government is facing a series of allegations ranging from corruption in Rafale to interference in CBI. Does the final leg of Modi's regime resembles the later years of UPA-2? 

It is worse than the later years of UPA. This sort of an opinion could be made on the perception of corruption.

I would say, the degree of corruption and the substantive amounts involved are far bigger than the accusations and instances during the UPA. Why do I say it is worse? It is not only corruption but this government is also guilty of endangering the social fabric of the country through poisonous communal polarisation.

Further, it is guilty of undermining almost every Constitutional authority of our Parliamentary democracy. The atmosphere of hate and intolerance is leading to the worst form of violence that we have not witnessed since India's partition. All this together make it a much worse situation than the UPA-2. 

Many feel that the Rafale controversy is hitting the Modi government hard and several draw a Bofors analogy. What is your take? 

Of course, it is the Bofors moment for Modi government. Accompanied by the facts I mentioned above, this is worse than the Bofors moment for the NDA. On Bofors, we eventually managed to make Congress constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee. This government has refused to do so, which in itself is an admission of guilt. 

Are you suggesting that the BJP-led NDA government is facing a credibility crisis? 

Objectively seen, it is. First is the complete betrayal of the election promises that it made. Not a single one of them have been fulfilled. On the contrary, the living conditions of the people have deteriorated sharply. Further its credibility as a manager of Indian economy has hit the rock bottom. The demonetisation, GST implementation, the knee-jerk reactions on economic matters have all led to an economic slowdown and growing miseries on people.

Thirdly, its record as the upholder, protector and the implementer of the Indian Constitution, its values and citizens' rights, is abysmal. 

We are entering the last leg of Modi regime. There is a huge buzz about Opposition unity. There were efforts by senior leaders, including you, to bring all parties under one umbrella. How do you see the shaping of a united Opposition ahead of the Lok Sabha election?

Unity of political parties can only emerge through a political narrative. My efforts have only been directed toward building this narrative. This narrative must precede any efforts of political parties coming together for the elections. Elections are not arithmetic.

The Assembly elections to five states were seen as a test dose of opposition unity. But there is more disunity than unity in the Opposition ranks. Has this affected the narrative on taking on Modi?

The narrative against Modi has to be on issues. People give credibility to a group only if the parties unite on issues. Merely parties coming together will not gain any credibility.  Merely saying that we are coming together to defeat BJP does not help. Why defeat BJP? What is the objective? That is important and that will have to do first. Secondly, the electoral unity or parties coming together necessarily has to be state specific.

Different parties enjoy the confidence of people in different states. So state specific alliances will ultimately result in an all-India formation which will form the alternative government. This has precisely happened earlier, especially in 1996 and 2004. This will happen this time also. But at the state level, parties coming together without a common narrative does not help. Also, the BJP-RSS is spending a lot of money to ensure that there is a third front in these states so that the anti-BJP votes are split.

There is a perception among Opposition and a section of people that the graph of  Modi as well as his government is on the decline. However, there is also a section that believes that there is no credible opposition face to take on Modi. How do you respond?

This is not what people feel but this is what the BJP propagates. People of India always know the Prime Minister is elected post elections. The same question was posed when A B Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. Who is there to take on Vajpayee? What happened in the 2004 elections? The BJP was defeated and Manmohan Singh came. Did anybody think that Manmohan Singh will be the Prime Minister? But Singh remained for ten years and became the second-longest serving Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru in a single stretch. Indira Gandhi served longer years but with breaks. So there is no problem with this.

The issue is that the BJP is trying to build a perception. They are trying to build a personality cult around Modi. 

While the talk is about opposition unity, other parties complain that Congress is showing one-upmanship. These parties mention several instances. What is your message to Congress? 

The Congress will gain in my opinion if it appears to be accommodative. But its nature is such that it wants to dominate, which is counter-productive if the objective is for maximising the anti-BJP vote. 

When it comes to united fight against BJP, the CPM also faced criticism from CPI, which said its decision in Telangana not to join the Congress-TDP-CPI-TJS combine as politically not correct. What is your response?

The issue in Telangana is that the CPM has been part of a larger front of parties and organisations on the issues of social justice and equitable development of the state. This is a bigger movement which is going on for the past five years. This movement has been continously proclaimed that they will fight the elections as a coalition, the Bahujan Left Front. That has been the history for the past five years.

Now, suddenly how can you say that we will join the Opposition and not with that front. That was the difficulty for the CPM. We are contesting a minimum number of seats. The Hyderabad Congress line is to ensure the defeat the BJP. BJP is not a big force in Telangana. Where BJP is in the fray, we will oppose them.