As a CPM chief minister, what are you hoping to achieve in BJP-ruled Haryana?
I have come here to address a mass meeting… My visit does not target Haryana alone. The problem Haryana is facing today should not be seen in isolation. What the country is facing, the farmers of Haryana are facing the same thing. So I believe this may help our assessment of the national situation.
Are you hoping that your party will gain some support in these parts?
Why not… why not. It may take some time but we have started gaining some support from the common people. Otherwise, you saw [farmers’ agitation] in Rajasthan. Like in Rajasthan, the farming community in Haryana too is agitating. We are always hopeful.
You are here to address a farmers’ rally. Is this part of a new political plan?
No… The rally is being organised in connection with the All India Kisan Sabha’s conference.
How do you rate the 3½ years of the Modi government at the Centre?
Thoroughly anti-people; it’s anti-people. They are working day and night for the interests of corporate houses.
A journalist, Shantanu Bhowmik, was killed recently in Tripura…
Police are inquiring. Being a chief minister, I think it will not be proper on my part to pass any comment. But it is a sorry state of affairs. We have constituted a special investigation team. Let them complete all this.
There is now a demand by tribal people for Tripraland. Has the CPM been ignoring the interests of the indigenous people all these years?
That is absolutely wrong because I can claim that in the country, perhaps Tripura is the only state under a Left-led government that has been taking one step after another for the greater interests of tribal people. We have constituted a Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council under the Sixth Schedule. We have forced the Government of India to amend the Constitution… Then right to education through their mother tongue is being implemented. Kókborok is the language of the largest [section] among the tribals. The Government of Tripura has recognised it as one of the state languages. At the same time, reservation for tribals in education, employment and promotion in services is being implemented.
Who are the people behind the unrest?
This is Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT). Actually, it’s a new name. In 1967, one organisation was dealt with, which is called Tripura Upajati Juba Samity, a tribal youth organisation… It was the brainchild of the then Congress. From that it is broken down. Now they have rechristened [it] IPFT. Now they have maintaining an understanding with the BJP. At the behest of the BJP, they are trying to create all these problems in Tripura.
Tripura has elections next year. Is it going to be the end of your long run?
I would request you to visit Tripura. You see, during our time, the Left Front government, we have not done anything wrong to the people of Tripura, irrespective of caste, colour and creed. We can’t claim that we have addressed all problems of the people. That can’t be done by any state government in India. But despite all this, we have not committed any wrong with the common people. It’s known to the people of Tripura. Therefore, we have full confidence in the people of Tripura and people of Tripura largely have confidence in the Left Front government. So, we are hopeful…we are hopeful.
Hasn’t the BJP spread to the Left Front stronghold too?
Stronghold means what? Actually, we are there. The BJP is growing at the cost of the Congress, that is there.
Should India welcome the Rohingya? Would they be welcome in your state?
The question should not be put like this. Rather you should [ask] what’s your attitude towards Rohingya. They are human beings. Our demand of the Government of India is that they should be treated as refugees… They should talk to the Government of Myanmar. Our Prime Minister was there while this problem was actually developing. He was there for two days. He could have talked … [he] did talk. Now what we have asked the Government of India to do is that they should take it up with UN. And the UN should talk to the Myanmar government.