In an interview with The Indian Express, Kerala Chief Minister and senior leader of CPM Pinarayi Vijayan criticises the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government for its move to invoke the stringent National Security Act against those arrested on charges of cow slaughter, calling it “against the secular character” of India, and speaks about the Left’s political strategies for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Excerpts:
Kerala is in a rebuilding state after the floods. What has been the progress?
United Nations agencies have assessed that Kerala requires Rs 31,000 crore (for the rebuilding exercise). Of this, Rs 5,000 will be from the Central government; we will have to mobilise the rest of the money. The World Bank is expected to help, and the Centre should cooperate with us in getting this support, especially because there is no special package announced (for Kerala) in this (Union) Budget. I am optimistic all work will be completed in three years.
Amid the recent violent agitation over women’s entry into Sabarimala shrine, the LDF government came under criticism from some Hindu outfits. Does CPM fear a consolidation of Hindu voters against it?
There is no Hindu consolidation against us. When we gave a call for a women’s wall (across the state), women from every section of Hindu community participated in it. There were more women than expected; (even though) there were attempts from some sections to stop women from going there, they still came. There were Muslims and Christians (women participants) also. There are some conservatives, like in every society, but the State is not with them, nor are the people.
Do you think Muslim voters will stand by CPM in the Lok Sabha elections?
The minority community will see who is opposing the BJP strongly, and who can defeat the BJP (in Kerala). There is a general feeling that the Left are a credible opposition to BJP…. The Left’s presence has made Kerala’s atmosphere different for them. So they will support the Left. They had seen how the Left could influence decisions during the UPA-1 government. There are some parties representing those (minority) communities and they oppose the Left. But they are getting weak, which in turn will strengthen the Left. The Congress has become a party that does not have any community with it (in Kerala).
What do you think of what is being called the Congress’s soft-Hindutva stand? The MP government’s charges under NSA for cow slaughter, for instance.
It’s a very wrong move — it is against the secular character of our nation. A party like the Congress, which claims to be secular, taking up steps such as the Sangh Parivar is not acceptable. When BJP took up the cow issue, Congress leaders had claimed that it had banned cow slaughter earlier.
If the Congress tries to follow RSS or Sangh Parivar stand on every issue, how can it strengthen secularism? It will, in fact, breed communalism. Take the case of Sabarimala, the Congress joined ranks with the RSS and BJP. If you want to strengthen secularism, you cannot adopt a communal stance.
Do you think CPM should have an understanding with the Congress in states such as West Bengal to oppose the BJP?
The Left’s stand is, the country will perish if the BJP returns to power for another five years in India (in 2019) — the country’s democracy, secularism and democratic institutions will be destroyed. If we want to keep the country in its present form, the BJP should not return to power. We need to ensure the BJP’s defeat everywhere. The Left will take a stand for that accordingly. We have not discussed any understanding with the Congress in West Bengal. Let them (party’s West Bengal unit) consider their issues and discuss the matter.