(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 19, 2009
CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said that the third front would emerge as the largest formation after the polls and it has the best chance of forming the next government. Answering questions in a Meet the Press programme at the Kolkata Press Club on April 14, 2009 Karat asserted that the Congress and the BJP would be nowhere near forming a government on their own.
Explaining the political situation on the eve of the first phase of the polls, Karat said the UPA has practically ceased to exist with all their major allies except the DMK in Tamilnadu, fighting against the Congress in several states. This time it is a three-way contest with non-Congress, non-BJP forces posing a serious challenge. This has unnerved both the BJP and the Congress. Further realignment of forces is expected after the elections and the third force will be in a position to form a government.
Karat explained that there is a general trend among the regional parties, not to align either with the Congress or the BJP. These regional parties have the experience of running governments, have competent and experienced leaders and they know the real problems of the people in their respective states. “The impression is why should we go with Congress or BJP when we can have adjustments within ourselves?” Karat said. This trend will grow and develop after the polls, he said.
Following are Prakash Karat’s comments made in the programme:
On the Congress' allegation that the Third Front is helping the BJP
Formation of a Third Front has actually nullified and neutralised the BJP. In the first phase, for example, the BJP has been marginalised in Orissa as the BJD has severed relations with them and has come into an alliance with CPI, CPI(M) and NCP. In Andhra Pradesh, the four party alliance of CPI(M)-CPI-TDP-TRS is the main challenge to the Congress and the BJP is sidelined. In Kerala, it is a straight fight between LDF and UDF with BJP nowhere in the scene.
On who will be the PM of the Third Front
Coalition partners will decide the matter after the elections. We are working in a parliamentary system and not in a presidential form of government. The issue of who will become PM will be determined by the parties with a majority. In fact, the alliance of the Left parties and the regional parties is a federal alliance, not a top down one. There will be a more democratic method of choosing a PM through discussions after the polls. I find no problems at all. In 1996 too, there was quick agreement on V P Singh who declined the request. Then there was agreement on Jyoti Basu which our Party decided not to accept.
On whether the CPI(M) will join such a government
The policy of the Party is to judge the circumstances and take appropriate decision. It is therefore an open question to us. We will seriously consider the matter after the polls if such a situation develops.
On media speculation over Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as a possible candidate for PM
I am not saying anything. We are not putting any name before the elections.
On the possibility of supporting a Congress-led government after the elections
We have categorically stated we will not support any Congress-led formation. There will be no occasion either. The Left parties have steadfastly opposed the policies of financial liberalisation of the UPA government. Critics of the Left have now realised that the financial sector of our country remained relatively protected in the global crisis because of the stand taken by the Left. We are opposed to sacrificing the country’s interests to the United States and international finance capital. Manmohan Singh government has sacrificed the interests of the country by entering into a strategic alliance with the US through military collaboration, the ten year Defence Framework Agreement and the nuclear deal, whose tenure is of 40 years. We have therefore withdrawn support to this government and neither would we support them after the elections.
On whether the CPI(M) is entering into ‘opportunist’ alliances
CPI(M) has worked with regional parties much before the Congress and the BJP. We have a long experience of working along with them. Even now, there are some issues and policies on which we have come to a common understanding. The four Left parties and six regional parties have come together. The main issues of the Third Front will be pro-people economic policies, firm adherence to secularism, independent foreign policy instead of the pro-US policy being pursued now and the effective implementation of federalism. Most of the parties gathered together have agreed on these questions.
On ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ PMs
These are false questions and false debates. We are not chasing after personalities; we are opposed to policies pursued by the UPA and the erstwhile NDA governments.
On Defence deals with Israel
The Defence deals with Israel and the allegations of corruption are part of larger questions. It is often said that the prime minister is ‘clean’ and there is no question about his integrity. That is fine. But it is a question of how this government deals with corruption. On the allocation of 2G Spectrum there were serious violations of rules. According to our calculations, the revenue loss was to the tune of nearly 1 lakh crore rupees. The Left parties demanded an investigation, which was refused by the government. Then everyone witnessed what happened during the trust vote. The latest Defence deal with an Israeli company was signed just before the elections were announced. The Left parties wrote letters to the prime minister and the defence minister much before that to reconsider the deal as the company concerned was accused of giving kickbacks by the same government. The government refused to heed. Of course, we will make it a big issue.
On the electoral battle in West Bengal
The assessment of our Party is that the battle will be tough. But earlier also we faced such situations, including the unity of opposition forces. In the panchayat elections too there was virtually an all-out unity among the opposition parties. Party has taken into account these developments in the political struggle. It will not be a single-issue election. The Left Front will win with a decisive majority in this election too.
On the PDP in Kerala
The PDP supported the Congress in 2001. Madani was in jail at that time and the Congress promised that they would free him. LDF was defeated in that election. There was a unanimous resolution in the assembly asking for proper treatment of Madani in jail. In 2006, the PDP extended support to the LDF from their own platform. Madani has been acquitted in the Coimbatore case and he changed his ideological and political orientation. There is no political alliance between the PDP and the LDF. They are supporting the LDF on their own. On the other hand, the Congress is linked to forces who are real extremists and violence-prone. These forces are supporting the Congress.