(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 26, 2009
The following are the excerpts of the interview of Bijan Dhar, secretary CPI (M) Tripura State Committee given to the INN
Q: What are the main issues in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections for the Left Front in Tripura?
A: There are four basic issues that the Left Front is focusing on, both in the national context as well as in the state. First is the attack on the livelihood and employment of crores of toiling masses, which has become even more serious because of the current economic crisis. We have to struggle for a reversal of the current policies to save the people. Second, we are asking the people to strengthen those forces who will safeguard the secular character of our society and safeguard national unity. Third is our objective to achieve a more meaningful and democratic federal structure to strengthen the states, which in turn will contribute to a strong centre. Fourth we are in the struggle for a nonaligned, independent foreign policy regime instead of the current pursuit of a pro-imperialist policy. The people of this country have struggled on these issues for almost 11 years now, and they need a secular alternative government with an alternative set of policies. In addition to these, we will also appeal to the people to vote for this alternative, which will genuinely address the issues facing women, children, minorities, SCs, STs and OBCs. We need to do this for not only guaranteeing and safeguarding their constitutional rights but we also feel this is a pre requisite for democratisation of the country as well.
Q: What will be the campaign strategy of the Left Front in Tripura?
A: We have seen from our past experiences that the main opposition alliance of the Congress and INPT do not attach much importance to mass meetings. They are hardly interested in a campaign focused on national issues, as though parliamentary elections are based on local issues. They try to divert people’s attention towards some fictitious allegations of corruption. Of course, one or two allegations could be genuine. But they do not want the people to understand that a parliamentary election is fought to change basic policies at the national level, which will have far reaching impact on the lives of people. Like in the past, they are trying to use money power to buy votes. Contrary to their approach we feel that these elections present before us an opportunity to present our politics and policies to a large number of people. It is an opportunity to mobilise people for our causes. On the one hand, it gives a genuine scope to increase our mass contact and on the other to increase the level of political consciousness of the people. We feel that people want to ask questions to us, they want to know a number of things, and they need to assess different opinions before arriving at a decision. Therefore we will be concentrating on public meetings as well as small courtyard meetings to reach out to the maximum number of people.
Q: How do you see the prospect of the Left Front both in the state and at the national level?
A: In the last assembly elections, our seats increased from 41 to 49. But the increase in the percentage of vote was not commensurate with the increase in seats. Our votes increased by 1.5 per cent to reach just above 51per cent. In the last parliamentary elections, the Left front got an average 68 per cent of the total votes cast. This time we will strive hard to retain that percentage. This is of course easier said than done. Nevertheless we are confident that our share of votes will be higher than what we got in the assembly elections.
At the national level, the forces of reaction are very much active in both West Bengal and Kerala. Their sole aim is to reduce the number of seats we would get and to destabilise our governments. With this end in view they are spreading terror and anarchy in certain parts of these states, killing a large number of our active and experienced comrades. The same situation prevailed in Tripura as well, during the Congress-TUJS coalition regime and also when terrorist activities were at their peak. But we are confident that these tactics to weaken and isolate the Left, and the CPI (M) in particular, will not be successful. We feel that the anti-Left forces are themselves becoming weak and isolated. Increasingly, the Left and its allied forces are emerging stronger, which we hope will have a positive impact for the electoral prospects of the Left.
Q: How do you see the impact of the Tripura Left Front government’s policies on the prospects of the Left Front?
A: Of course, the developmental activities of the state government will boost the prospect of the Left Front in the elections. People of the state are aware of the genuine political will of the government for all-round development of the state and improving the living standards of the people. On the other hand, people also see the apathy of the opposition towards development of the state, their silence on genuine demands of the people, and the fact that they conspire in Delhi so that the state is not allocated adequate funds. In the earlier elections people taught them a fitting lesson for their betrayal of the interests of the state. This time too the same verdict awaits them.
When the entire nation is faced with the menace of terrorism and the centre is using the situation to compromise our national interests by allying with the imperialist forces, Tripura has shown an alternative path. Here terrorism is fought not just with the help of our security forces, but with our strong political and ideological struggle against terrorism wherein the tribal and non-tribal people of the state have worked hand in hand to build a solid wall of resistance against terrorism. This has helped the security forces. Coupled with this, the developmental activities of the government have gradually weakened the base of the terrorists. This approach to tackle terrorism, we feel is unique in the country and can be followed as a role model. This achievement will also have a positive impact on our electoral prospects.