Maximise Pooling of Anti-BJP, Anti-TMC Votes in Bengal

Sitaram Yechury’s Interview with Ganashakti

Q: What are the lessons of Bihar elections?

Yechury: There are many lessons to be drawn from Bihar elections. First,
the largest possible unity of secular forces against BJP/JDU alliance could
be achieved and it paid dividends. Secondly, RJD-Congress
Mahagatbandhan was strengthened by three Left parties joining with
them. It ushered in a different nature of campaign, different from
traditional election campaigns in Bihar. Economic issues were sharply
raised, particularly the issue of unemployment. There was huge response
from the youth. Thirdly, the Left parties are acclaimed in the whole
country for their consistent championing of issues related to people’s
livelihood and democratic rights. They are uncompromisingly committed
against communalism. This has enhanced the Mahagatbandhan’s
credibility on these issues. In reality Mahagatbandhan has got a mere
0.03% less vote than BJP-JD(U) combine. The thrust of our campaign was
to defeat BJP/JD(U) alliance for Bihar’s sake and for India’s sake. It was
proved that BJP can be seriously challenged.

Q: Assembly elections in West Bengal are few months away. Already
talks about political formations have started. What will be
CPI(M)’s main political strategy in Bengal?

Yechury :
CPI(M) in its Party Congress has adopted the political tactical
line. Among several objectives the first and primary task is to defeat and
remove BJP from central government and in the states. In West Bengal
too, the primary objective is to defeat BJP in the interest of Bengal and
India. The question is how to achieve this objective.
In the concrete situation of West Bengal to defeat BJP we have to isolate
and defeat TMC. TMC had prepared the road of entry for BJP in Bengal.
BJP has strengthened its foothold with the help from TMC. TMC was in
alliance with BJP. The present CM was a union cabinet minister in NDA
governments. Their credibility in fighting BJP is very low in the first place.
There is very deep discontent and anti incumbency against TMC
government. There is widespread discontent against TMC”s politics of
terror and intimidation. Any urge to defeat BJP encompassing everybody
including TMC is self defeating. In that case, all anti incumbency
sentiments will only favour the BJP, as the only opposition. Such a tactics
will ensure the victory of BJP. What is required in Bengal is maximum
possible polling of anti-BJP, anti-TMC votes. CPI(M) CC has decided to
pursue this objective.

Q: Already there are talks about “main enemy”. Should we mobilise
against both BJP and TMC? Is it a fact that Left’s targeting TMC is
helping BJP? How should we treat this question?

Main political enemy is BJP, not only in Bengal but in the whole
of India. The moot question is to how you can defeat this enemy. As I told
already, If you don’t campaign against TMC, don’t fight them anti-
incumbency will favour the opposition, that is BJP. The objective of
defeating BJP will be defeated. Such a tactics will only help BJP.
BJP and TMC both want a bipolar narrative to work. Either TMC or BJP.
They both encourage this narrative so that no political space for a third
formation can be gained. This bipolar narrative, too, will help BJP. People
against TMC will go for one way towards BJP. The policies of TMC in
Bengal are anti-people, little different from BJP”s policies. A credible third
alternative will be formed through struggles against both these forces.

Q: There are some perceptions in some quarters that it is not wise to
treat both BJP and TMC as enemies of the people. Even in some
quarters a ‘softening” attitude about TMC is proposed in various

forms. Though there is strong discontent among people against
TMC. Some say, CPI(M) is fighting against the state government
only. What should be CPI(M)”s stand?

Such perceptions, if any, are misplaced in our opinion. TMC is
in the state government. How can you not fight this anti-people
government? The government is run by TMC. CPI(M) and the Left are
fighting for demands of livelihood of the people, on their burning issues.
The Left parties are reflecting the discontent of the people. But it is wrong
to say that the struggle is only against the state government. CPI(M) is
consistent in fighting against the policies of the central government.
Whom did we fight at the time of lockdown? Who are we fighting against
in the ensuing strike and kisan protests on 26th & 27th? There is a
continuous struggle against privatisation of public sector, changes in the
labour laws, against new agri bills. CPI(M) is consistent in the fight
against Modi government’s attack on democracy, their attempt to destroy
Constitution. This is misguided and disinformation to say that CPI(M) is
not fighting against the central government.
I have already told about the danger. We are not treating TMC and BJP
equally. No other political party in the country can be equated with BJP.
BJP is attempting to destroy constitutional democracy and Republican
character of our country. In West Bengal, CPI(M) is fighting both against
TMC state government and BJP central government.

Q: What is CPI(M)’s stand on question of communal threat and
attempts of communal polarisation in Bengal. Particularly in the
context of Bengal’s history and demography.

Yechury: Bengal has experienced a sordid tragedy of ghastly communal
riots during the partition. On the day India achieved independence,
Gandhiji was on an indefinite fast in Kolkata. He did not go to Red For to
unfurl the tri-colour flag. There were barbaric riots in Noakhali. He
proceeded to go there. This wound of communal division was deeply
ingrained in the minds of the people of Bengal. But the Communists and
the Left not only kept this in check but largely erased this wound for over
half a century. The struggles in Bengal, the struggles concerning
livelihood, progressive politics, cultural milieu helped in the process.
Minority sections felt security, enjoyed democracy in Bengal. During Babri
Masjid demolition, there was no communal riot in Bengal. People who
suffered communal carnage in other parts of the country took shelter in
Bengal. When the minority was suffering from sense of insecurity in
many parts of the country, the Muslims in Bengal not only felt secure,
they strived for better livelihood, better qualifications. This was the
strength of Left and democratic movement in Bengal. This sense of
security cannot be achieved by pandering to any communal,
fundamentalist forces. BJP is constantly trying to fall back on the past to
revive communal passions. In Bengal, this has become the main content
of its campaign. CPI(M) has steadfastly positioned itself against
communal politics and will continue to do so.

Q: Why the CPI(M) and Left Front is going for an electoral
understanding with Congress? Is it only a question of vote

CPI(M) is not going with electoral understanding with Congress
alone. CPI(M) stands for unity of all such forces who are willing to defend
secular, democratic, republican character of our constitution. In the
concrete situation of each state the nature of this unity will be
determined. CPI(M) is not subservient to any one, nor we are telling
others to be subservient to us. In the concrete situation of Bihar, Left has
combined with RJD-Congress. In Tamilnadu, we will go with DMK-led
front, including Congress. CPI(M) will contest elections in Assam along
with all opposition secular forces including Congress. In West Bengal,
talks are going on for seat sharing among all anti-BJP anti-TMC secular
parties. This is the CPI(M)’s position.

(Translated from Bengali)