The CPI on Friday released the party’s manifesto? How do you frame the current elections?
The experience of the BJP-led NDA government with Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister has been one of misrule. The ideas of democracy, equality and justice enshrined in the Constitution are being systematically disrupted using the state machinery. The oppressed identities of the country — Dalits, tribals, minorities, women — are facing unprecedented humiliation and violence. Working class, peasantry, agricultural workers…all are passing through huge distress. Unemployment is at its peak. Adding to this crisis is the fact that deeply casteist and fascist forces represented by the RSS and other allied organisations are gathering ground in the state and the society. Our fight is to defeat the nefarious politics of hate and communal fascism both on the electoral as well as on the socio-political battleground. We are saying that the BJP and its allies should be defeated and people should vote for secular, democratic candidates.
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What are the highlights of the manifesto?
We are saying there should be a reversal of the economic policies. Privatisation of PSUs should end, Planning Commission should be revived after dismantling the Niti Aayog, the Swaminathan Committee recommendations for the agriculture sector should be accepted and implemented, national employment guarantee Act should be enacted, right to employment, right to healthcare, right to education and right to housing should be made fundamental rights, 10 per cent and 6 per cent of the GDP must be earmarked for education and health sectors, respectively.
What are the alternative policies that you are putting forward?
We are saying that labour intensive industries must be established and there should be statutory assurance of remunerative prices for all farm produce through expanded and decentralised procurement. We propose a one-time comprehensive loan-waiver, enactment of a central legislation for agricultural workers, separate budget for agriculture in states and Centre, notification and protection of exclusive agricultural zones, minimum pension of Rs 9,000 per month, fixing of national minimum wages as per the recommendation of the 15th Labour Conference and an increase in the number of guaranteed employment days under the MGNREGA scheme to 200 days per family.
Your main agenda is to defeat the BJP and you are asking people to vote for secular, democratic candidates. But other secular parties are not willing to accommodate you? We have seen that in Bihar, UP and Maharashtra
From the beginning, we are saying that secular, democratic parties must be realistic and must be accommodative of each other keeping in view the primary objective of defeating the BJP. In some states, that was not kept in mind by some parties. UP, Bihar, Maharashtra…seat adjustments could not take place.
Won’t the division of anti-BJP votes help the BJP?
It is for other parties to think over. The Left has been consistently saying that all secular, democratic forces must fight together in order to ensure the defeat of the BJP. The BJP is hoping that division of secular votes will help it. We are hoping that will not happen. Let us see.
Do you think the RJD betrayed you by not including the CPI in the alliance because of which Kanhaiya Kumar is now fighting alone
They did not formally communicate to us. They should have done that. Whether they agree or not…as political parties, they should have formally spoken to other parties. That courtesy was missing. I met Laluji in Ranchi. He said before taking a decision, he will tell me. But he did not say. Anyway, we are fighting that seat.
Would the Left be keen to join or support a non-BJP government in the event of a fractured verdict?
After elections, we will see what will be the scenario. We will first ensure that the BJP is defeated and an alternative secular, democratic government is formed. In the process, what should be our role, what should be our position that we will decide after elections.