It may not have a single seat in the current Assembly,but the CPI is not taken lightly in Chhattisgarh politics,primarily because it has that capacity to dent vote share of the main parties and influence the final outcome.
Unlike parties like the BSP or NCP,the CPI puts up candidates only from selected seats 21 in 2008 and 18 in 2003 focuses completely on them and makes the contest triangular,making it difficult for both the BJP and Congress.
In 2008 and 2003,major upsets were attributed to the party. In Dantewada last time,it managed the defeat of stalwart Mahendra Karma. Its candidate Manish Kunjam stood second as Karma was pushed to the third slot.
Because of its perceived closeness to the Maoists,police and rival parties have spread a notion that CPI easily gets votes of interior areas. Two-term MLA Kunjam,in fact,took medicines for Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon when he was in the Maoist captivity last year.
Recently,the CPI formed an alliance with local parties,like Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch and Gondwana Gantantra Party,posing a bigger challenge to the BJP and Congress. The alliance hopes to snatch 6-7 seats,which could leave the small Assembly of 90 seats hung. In an interview to The Indian Express,two of the partys senior state leaders speak about the Maoists,and the partys prospects this time.
CR Bakshi,state secretariat member,CPI
On proximity with Maoists: Its a nonsense allegation by the police and an attempt by the Congress and BJP to distance us from the people. We are completely different from Maoists. Yes,we share a common goal of bringing socialism in India; our and their flag is same,that of hammer and sickle. But our strategy and tactics are different from theirs. We want a democratic revolution,they work for a militant revolution. Had there been any support from Naxalites,we would have won all seats in Bastar. The fact is that the Maoists oppose us. They dont like a democratic Left party like us to win in Bastar,therefore we have not won in Bastar in the last 20 years. Our victory will prove that a party different from their strategy can win,which they do not want.
Party prospects this time: We have already announced 15 candidates. We are hopeful and trying for a third front. It will bring instability but it will remain for some 10 years,and will ultimately bring change. The Sixth Schedule will make Bastar an autonomous region like Assam and Tripura,troops will be withdrawn and self-rule for tribals will be implemented. It will be a true democracy.
Manish Kunjam,Konta candidate,two-term MLA
On Raman Singhs schemes: Raman Singh is creating a nautanki of subsidised ration. Free rice has damaged farming and labour prospects. People have become lazy; they no longer go to work. It has also created an acute shortage of labour in the states industries today and production has affected. Also,since food requirements of farmers are easily met now,they are easily coerced to sell their farmlands to middlemen who then transfer it to industries. It deprives them of their land and will gradually make them dependent on the government.
Cause of Naxalism: Naxalism has increased because of the governments policies. You cannot check Naxalism by anti-people initiatives like Salwa Judum and giving arms to tribals. Before the forces came here,before Salwa Judum began,the area was free. But now you have only fear and insecurity. When government works against people,Naxalism emerges.
Road ahead: The government policy and attitude towards tribals must change. They brand tribals as Naxals and arrest them. The government must realise that tribals living in inside villages are not Naxals.