What exactly did the CPI mean when it proposed a merger with the CPI(M)?
In the CPI'sCalcutta Congress held in 1989, we had talked of a merger on principled basis. Today we are essentially talking about working together. Not only in Delhi but at all levels of the two parties and mass organisations. If there are ideological differences, these can be sorted out through dialogue.
The CPI and CPI(M) don'thave any ideological reason to stay apart as two different entities. The reasons that caused your split in 1964 are no longer relevant. So by ?merger? do you mean that you go back to being an unified party?
No, the political resolution adopted at the recent Chandigarh Congress says that both parties have travelled a long way with their mutually exclusive agendas. We can'tgo back to history. The answer lies in the present not the past.
You talk of coordination but recently we saw how the CPI differed with the CPI(M) over the passing of the amendments to the Patent Act.
I don'twant to accuse any party. There could have been better coordination. But the Left as a whole fought relentlessly to force the government to accept its suggestions. There was a meeting between the leaders of the Left and the Group of Ministers on the issue and we made our point of view very clear. The UPA government accepted some of our suggestions.
But subsequently the CPI adopted a very hostile posture?
The Congress and the BJP played a dirty role. The Congress signed the WTO Agreement which we opposed at that time. The Bill that came before Parliament was circulated during the BJP'sterm. So the big two parties are responsible for this state of affairs. We don'tagree with the definition of TRIPS. We will oppose the multinationals if they try to push up prices.
But where is the scope for any more relief now that you have accepted it and voted to pass the Bill?
We will demand that there is a mechanism to monitor the implementation process. We will be vigilant. This is only the third amendment. There can be a fourth.
Hasn'tthe Left lost an opportunity to implement its anti-globalisation agenda?
Our fight against globalisation will continue. In this case we have tried to extract maximum leeway. We have not compromised. I can agree with the supposition that it is a tactical adjustment with the government.
Coming to the domestic political situation, do you see an end to the Bihar impasse?
Where is the solution? Finally we will have to go back to the people. We feel that Ram Vilas Paswan is weakening the UPA. The Congress and Lok Janshakti Party should have been more sober in their assessment. One thing to be said in Laloo'sfavour is that at least he has been consistent in his fight against the BJP.
The re-election of A.B. Bardhan has sent the message that the CPI is resistant to change and does not have a second line of leaders.
Comrade Bardhan is one of the topm ost ideologues on the Left. He was jailed during the freedom struggle. To him, the fight against colonialism is not a theory. Under his leadership the party leadership has a healthy mix of age and class background. Our central secretariat is a competent collective. Besides, we have inducted a lot of new faces in the national executive.