The CPI in Kerala, which has always aired its views on contentious issues, on Sunday maintained that it would continue to “resist” any “diversion” by the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF from fundamental Left policies.
However, the party’s criticisms were “issue-based” and not against the government or any individual, CPI state secretary Kannam Rajendran said.
“There are possibilities of minor diversions (from the Left policies)… but we will continue to resist this and we stand firmly on it.”
The leader’s remarks assume significance as the divergent stand by the CPI, second largest partner in the Left Democratic Front, against the government on some issues has triggered a war of words between the leaders of the two parties.
The issues include “encounter” death of two Maoists, registering cases under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and eviction of encroachers from government land.
The CPI has taken a national position on issues like “encounters” and UAPA and the party cannot take a different approach in Kerala on these matters, Rajendran told PTI in an interview at Thiruvananthapuram.
He maintained that the alleged death of two Maoists in Nilambur forests, which triggered a row in the state last year, was in a “fake encounter.”
“I still believe that it was a fake encounter as per the information given by our local party workers,” he said.
According to state police, the duo were killed in an “encounter” with police personnel at Edakara in Nilambur forest in northern Malappuram district on November 26, 2016.
On differences between CPI(M) and CPI over removing encroachments in high range Munnar, Rajendran said there was no need for any dispute as the LDF had taken a position that all settlers, as on January 1,1977, should be given title deeds and encroachers would be evicted.
His party was of the view that “big” encroachers should be evicted as per law in the first phase, he said.
However, due to local pressure, “some hurdles occur and we are of the opinion that it should be cleared and move forward,” he said.
On the controversial decision of four CPI ministers to keep away from a cabinet meeting protesting the participation of then Transport minister Thomas Chandy, facing charges of encroachment, Rajendran said “it was a correct decision.”
“We have taken a stand that there was no need to take part in the illegal meeting attended by Chandy. The party does not think that the decision to abstain from the cabinet meeting was violation of collective responsibility,” he said.
The CPI ministers’ decision to abstain from the weekly cabinet meeting on November 15 had snowballed into an unprecedented political row in the state, which is yet to die down.
The CPI(M) had then alleged that the CPI’s move was to take the “credit” for Chandy’s resignation and it was against coalition principles.
Rejecting the CPI(M) charge, Rajendran said the party did not want any credit for that. However, he cited Chandy’s reported remark that it was the position taken by one of the partners in the LDF that forced him to quit.
“We are not responsible for that statement,” Rajendran quipped.
About the performance of the LDF government headed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the last 18 months, the CPI leader said financial crisis was a major issue worrying the government at present as there were difficulties in taking forward its development projects.
However, he said the effort was to tide over the crisis and move forward.
In this regard, he said demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax had a negative impact on the state economy. The effort now was to mobilise more non-tax revenue, he said.
The CPI leader maintained that the government had not diluted any social security measures like disbursement of welfare pension.
Stating that the Left had always opposed the concept of Goods and Services Tax, Rajendran said under GST, the tax rate was being regulated by a Council.
“With this, the role of people’s representatives in fixing tax rates ceased to exist,” the CPI leader said.
The LDF had co-operated in implementing GST expecting that the new tax regime would help increase the revenue of Kerala as it is a consumer state. However, the state revenue has come down drastically after GST was implemented, he said.
On the political approach towards the Congress to challenge the BJP surge in the country, Rajendran said the CPI has not thought of having any “electoral understanding” with the party.
“We will be discussing the draft political resolution of the party in this regard at the upcoming national party conference to be held in January next,” he said.
The CPI leader, however, said the party wanted a broad platform of secular and progressive forces at the national level to take on the saffron party.