Ahead of the 22nd party congress of the CPI(M) beginning in Hyderabad on Wednesday, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury spoke to MANOJ C G about challenges facing the party, the way ahead, and questions on his continuation as the party chief. Edited excerpts:
What will be the focus of the party congress?
The focus is on developing the party. We had taken very important decisions at the 2015 party plenum: to strengthen the party and its political intervention capacities, to strengthen the unity of Left forces, and on that basis forge a Left and democratic unity (for) an alternative policy direction. This is the basic task before us.
The Tripura result showed these decisions had no effect. How are you going to ensure the CPI(M) gets electoral benefits?
That is what we will review now. The Tripura election was a big setback to us. One thing is clear: the BJP succeeded in building a total anti-Left front. They made all sorts of unscrupulous deals with all, including tribal extremist organisations, and they collected everybody and made it into a one-to-one contest. (But in) the last three years, apart from Tripura, there has been a big growth in movements and struggles. The working class had gone on two industrial strikes, the peasantry is up in a battle, our kisan sabha has been very active in mobilising the peasantry and conducting the struggles…. At another level, the mass organisations of Left parties and people’s movements such as that of Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy…they have come together and formed a big front called the Jan Andolan, Jan Adhikar…. For the first time, after many decades there is a very strong bonding between the Dalit movements and the Left.
The BJP has also gone from strength to strength. Unless you defeat the BJP electorally, how can you stop its policies, which you say are anti-people?
We have said in our draft resolution that our primary objective is to defeat the BJP…because the reins of the BJP government are in the hands of fascistic RSS. We have said that appropriate electoral tactics would be worked out to maximise anti-BJP votes. But this election tactics will not have any understanding or alliance with the Congress.
But many people are questioning that line. They say the CPI(M) will be seen as breaking the anti-BJP front.
That is the subject matter of discussion at the party congress. I can’t say anything on that now.
You said RSS is a fascistic force. But even on that there is no unanimity in your party. Some leaders believe conditions for fascism do not exist in India.
What I am saying is in the party programme, (which) describes the BJP as no ordinary political party because its reins are controlled by the fascistic RSS. RSS has a fascistic agenda. That is our party’s programmatic formulation. What we are saying is fascism is the jettisoning of parliamentary democracy and replacing it by a terroristic dictatorship…that has not yet happened, but fascistic tendencies and trends is what the RSS represents, and they are controlling this government.
It is said that some of your leaders from Kannur, your stronghold in Kerala which has seen CPM-RSS clashes, have moved amendments on the fascism part?
We will consider the amendments – the central committee meets tomorrow. Thousands of amendments are there. We are going through those amendments now. It shows vibrant inner-party democracy we have.
The minority draft presented by you was rejected by the CPI(M) central committee. If the line you propose is defeated at the party congress, will you resign?
I cannot speculate on what happens and what not. The (party) congress will deliberate, discuss and decide what is going to be our future line.
There’s speculation that Manik Sarkar could emerge as consensus choice as the next CPI(M) general secretary.
All speculation is the lifeblood of the media. Let them speculate.
The other Left parties — the CPI(ML), for instance – believes that the Left should make a distinction between fascist and non-fascist forces within the non-Left camp and work for the defeat of fascist forces.
Let us see. These are issues the party congress will decide. I cannot preempt anything.
There are efforts to form a federal front. The CPI(M) has already concluded that there is no scope for formation of a third front. Wouldn’t you be relegated to the margins. How do you see these efforts?
A lot of water will flow through India’s rivers by the time the General Election comes. There will be lots of such moves, counter-moves and all sorts of things happening. There is no need to take any position on most of them. But as far as the CPI(M) is concerned, we have said that there is no possibility of any national alternative being formed by a coalition of regional parties. A collection of regional parties cannot give a national alternative. We are now concentrating on the party congress and what our line would be…
You were the first person who talked about the possibility of bringing an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The Congress collected signatures of MPs and then fell silent. What happened?
I am no longer in Parliament — the (party) MPs will have to say that. I am told the signatures have been taken…. I am sure something will happen. Why the delay…what are the actual developments…they will have to say. The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha will be able to tell you. If there is any delay, they will be able to explain.
Your view on the child rape and murder case in Kathua?
There is a dehumanisation of our society under the RSS-BJP rule, and this has always been an issue that everyone was concerned about. For instance, how German people who are inheritors of German philosophy – the founders of dialectics – how did they finally accept fascist ideology? Irrationality takes over from rationality, unreason takes over from reason. When reasoning is removed from social processes, such horrific incidents are also being justified. What are BJP MLAs doing. What are lawyers doing in preventing a case to be filed for delivery of justice. It is this assault on reason that is taking place that is also contributing to this sort of criminal degeneration and dehumanisation. And it is clear that all this is happening under the patronage of the government. Private armies for cow protection, for moral policing, these incidents of child rape all these are symptomatic of assault on reason and irrationality over rationality.