TMC weakening Cong will only benefit BJP: Premachandran

TMC trying to weaken Congress will only benefit BJP: RSP MP NK Premachandran

This time the Opposition will try its best to mark our protest in a different way in the Parliament, the leader said

Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) MP NK Premachandran speaks in the Lok Sabha. Credit: PTI Photo

NK Premachandran may be the only MP of RSP in the Lok Sabha but has made a mark in Parliament with his interventions on debates on issues and discussions on Bills. A vocal Opposition leader, he is respected by leaders across party lines. Premachandran, the MP from Kerala's Kollam, spoke to DH's Shemin Joy on the Opposition strategy during the Winter Session of Parliament.

The Monsoon Session in July-August saw large-scale disruptions. Will it be the same this time?

I think this time the Opposition will try its best to mark our protest in a different way in the Parliament. Let the House run, we will disrupt whenever the situation arises. We will try to get our observations recorded in Parliament records. In the 21 days of theMonsoon Session, the Opposition protest never came on record. This time, I think, the strategy has to be changed. Both disruption and discussion are highly essential. I believe the main Opposition party Congress is also thinking in the same direction. In some cases, we will have to disrupt the proceedings. Discussion is also needed to highlight the dissent of the Opposition.


What are the issues that are high on the Opposition agenda?

The primary issue is price rise, owing to the hike in fuel prices. It has affected not only the marginalised sections but the entire country. So far, the government has been arguing that the pricing of fuels is not in its hands. The reduction in excise duty has helped in bringing down the prices.

What did we see during the elections? Prices don't rise. Why is it so? There is provision that allows the government to give specific directions. Using this, the government is still controlling fuel prices only during elections. Whenever there is an election, there is no increase but when it is over, the prices go up again. So, it is absolutely clear that controlling prices is within the ambit of the government. This has to be brought out in a huge way in Parliament.

Another is the farmers' issue. We welcome the repealing of three laws but there is a need for providing legal backing for Minimum Support Price (MSP). For that you need to bring legislation.

Another important issue is Pegasus. Whatever allegations were raised by the Opposition during the Monsoon Session, that has been ratified by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has appointed a committee to look into it. There are several other issues which we have identified and we will raise those in the coming days.

Also Read | Winter Session of Parliament from Monday, Opposition warns disruption if not heard

Pegasus led to large-scale disruptions and your protest did not get into Parliament records. Is it the reason that there is a change in strategy this time?

Definitely. In Pegasus, the Prime Minister has not spoken a word so far. Right to privacy is a fundamental right of a citizen. In such a case, the government having no specific view is surprising. The government will have to answer in the House. The government is now hiding everything and running away from a discussion. That is why I think, last time, the disruptions in one way helped the government in not revealing whether they bought the spy software and related issues. In a way, they escaped scrutiny due to disruptions. Also, whenever we discuss communal issues, I feel the BJP is the beneficiary. We have no other option but to raise these issues. They want us to raise these issues and use it to their advantage. They want a division among Hindus and non-Hindus. So we will be very careful, as the five Assembly elections are coming.

You referred to the BJP taking advantage whenever the Opposition raises issues related to communalism. What will be your strategy to counter it?

There is a very tricky position. Whenever we raise issues of secularism or BJP's communal politics, we are portrayed as anti-Hindus and pro-Muslims. They are propagating secularism ad anti-Hindu and that we are anti-Hindus. A big murmuring campaign, a deliberate social media campaign is going on in this country. They want to polarise the population. We must be very careful in dealing with these issues. I think that is in the minds of every Opposition politician. We will strategically raise it. But that does not mean that we will remain silent. We will definitely raise these issues. The BJP wants to cover up genuine issues, such as fuel price hike, that affect people under the garb of communalism.

Also Read | All-party meet: Opposition parties demand discussion on Pegasus row, price rise

Several Opposition parties boycotted the Constitution Day event at Parliament's Central Hall. What led to this boycott?

On one side, they are subverting, destabilising the Constitution and at the same time they are celebrating Constitution Day. It is ironical. Even Supreme Court directions are not complied with. They are weakening the Parliament, Election Commission, freedom of press, the RBI, you name it. Everything is being controlled by the NITI Ayog. The secular fabric of the country is under threat. Even Ministers are speaking unequivocally against the spirit of the Constitution and against the secular fabric of the country.

To celebrate the constitution, they first have to respect it. They are even changing the narrative on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Statues of Gandhi's killer, Nathuram Godse, are being erected and he is being celebrated. While they want to portray Gandhi in a different way, they also want to erase the Nehruvian legacy. None of the senior ministers attended the event in Parliament on November 14 during the birth anniversary celebrations of the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. This is an insult. The Nehruvian era is a huge part of the secular legacy of India and they want to erase that. It is only because of Nehru and the Congress that India still remains a secular country else it would have become a theocratic nation. They are not adhering to any principles of the Constitution but are celebrating it. This is why we boycotted. Further, there was no advance notice. We were informed only two days before. This is not the way the Opposition needs to be treated. Opposition needs to be consulted. Why should the Opposition attend if they are not taken into confidence? Even for the 75th anniversary celebrations for Independence, the Opposition was not taken into confidence.

Questions are being raised about Opposition unity, especially with the Trinamool Congress admitting several Congress leaders into its fold. How is the Opposition going to ensure that there will be unity inside Parliament?

Lately Trinamool Congress is moving in a particular direction. Every party has the right, it might be their strategy. But weakening the unity of the Opposition at this time will only benefit the BJP. Now, Congress MLAs are being admitted and Trinamool is becoming a major Opposition party, especially in the north-east. This will lead to weakening of the Opposition. So, I don’t think it is a wise decision. That does not mean that Trinamool does not have the right to build its party. But BJP is the main enemy, not Congress. If you are weakening the Congress, one way or other way, it will be benefiting the BJP. No doubt about it, weakening the Congress at this juncture will definitely help the BJP. ‘Congress-less India' is the slogan of the BJP. We have to understand that if other parties want to divide or get rid of Congress — one way or the other — it will indirectly benefit the BJP, no doubt. So, at least at the floor level, Trinamool, Congress, DMK and all other like-minded secular democratic opposition parties, along with Left parties, have put up a united front in Parliament. I think Congress should take the initiative by taking Trinamool into confidence.

Read | TMC 'disinterested' to coordinate with Congress in Winter Session, likely to skip Oppn parties' November 29 meeting

Do you think this unity will not be disturbed?

I think that Trinamool will come in line with other Opposition parties to fight the BJP in Parliament. All other matters — organisational issues, elections — are outside the Parliament. In the Monsoon Session, Trinamool Congress fully cooperated with the Opposition on farmers’ issue, Pegasus etc. Parliament floor level coordination and unity will be there. But for this, Congress has to take the initiative.

Watch latest videos by DH here:

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox