Pramod Kumar and Deepak Kumar Rath
Every election throws up its share of political blockbusters and boxbusters. Winners and losers look at the outcome from their unique angle and style. It is time for both jubilation and introspection?to learn some lessons?to prepare for the next round. After all, elections are a great leveller. Organiser correspondents Pramod Kumar and Deepak Kumar Rath spoke to a very special team of leaders across the socio-political spectrum of our national life. Read on.?Ed.
?We support Congress to undo the things the NDA did?
?D. Raja, CPI, national secretary
The Congress-Left post poll-combine has surprised everybody. The Leftists are now supporting the party against which they have been fighting for decades and even fought in this election. Shri D. Raja, national secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), says that they supported the Congress ?to defeat the BJP?, though they have no direct fight with the party in any of the states. Organiser spoke to him about his party'sexpectations from the new government and why his party decided to support the Congress despite many differences and contradictions. Excerpts:
What are your expectations from the new government?
The first expectation from the government is to undo the things that the NDA government did. They undermined the parliamentary democracy and federal structure of the country, and posed a serious threat to the unity and integrity of the country by allowing the communal, fascist forces to spread hatred and violence against minorities. They converted India into a kind of economic colony of multinational companies by acting at the dictates of World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). They formed a new ministry to dismantle and sell the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). The NDA government also turned the foreign policy from non-alignment to pro-American. Now all these have to be corrected. The new government has also to address how it can infuse confidence in all sections of the people for maintaining social harmony and secular democratic values. It will also have to see that industries and agriculture grow faster and centralised economic development moves hand in hand with social justice.
It was the present Prime Minister and Finance Minister who introduced and promoted globalisation and liberalisation, and they plan to continue with those economic reforms. How will you check that there is no more privatisation?
They have also said that the reforms would take place with a ?human face? that the NDA government did not have. However, what they mean by human face is yet to be explained. They have said that they would not sell PSUs. I don'tthink the present PM and FM will continue with the same policies. They might have introduced these, but they have also learnt lessons. The Congress has learnt lessons. People have also taught lessons to every political party, including our party. This is a new situation and there are new requirements. Therefore, the government cannot implement the same old policies of the Vajpayee government.
?It is for the PM to take care of criminal ministers as ministry making is his job?.
Can you say that there will be no more privatisation?
There will not be privatisation of the type carried out by the BJP government. The BJP was out to sell even the profit-making, strategic and core-sector PSUs. I don'tthink such a policy will be pursued by the present government and we shall not allow it to do that. It will have to abide by the Common Minimum Programme (CMP). The Congress has agreed to maintain the profit-making navaratnas, as the PSUs are called. Both the PM and FM have acknowledged the role of PSUs in the economy.
What are the prominent issues that you want in the CMP?
We want agriculture to be given top priority and investment should increase in this sector. The interests of farmers should also be protected. We want a Central legislation to protect the interests of the agriculture workers. There should be guaranteed minimum wages, and no reversal of the Land Ceiling Act.
In most of the states you have a direct fight against the Congress and not against the BJP?
Our fight is against the BJP only. I agree there is no BJP in many states. Our fight with it is at the higher level. You have to choose among the better alternatives. But ideologically and politically our fight is against the BJP in the given situation.
It means you have supported the Congress just to fight the BJP?
Yes, the Congress gets our support to keep the communal forces out of power. The BJP is number one enemy of the nation and the people.
If the Congress is not untouchable for you, why have your party leaders from Kerala pressurised the Central leadership not to induct any Congress leader from Kerala in the cabinet?
These are small things. In the Kerala context, they are right. Now we are looking at major national issues. The situation in West Bengal and Kerala is different. The BJP is not contesting there for power. In these states the fight is between the Congress and the Left. Between the Congress and the Left, people chose the Left.
Don'tyou think the Left parties should join the government to provide stability to the government? CPI has already been part of the United Front government?
The UF government was supported by the Congress from outside and that time the Congress was defeated. Now, the government is headed by the Congress Party. The Left parties have collectively decided to support the government from outside. The Left is not part of the government and we shall continue to support it from outside; this is our decision.
There are six ministers with criminal background in the government. Don'tyou think it harms the image?
It is for the Prime Minister to take care of that, as ministry making is his job.
Does it not matter to the Left parties?
It mattes to everybody, not only to the Left. It should mater to every citizen of the country. But now, it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to see whether it is true or what he can do in this regard.