Interview With CPI-ML General Secretary

It is a Verdict against Modi

[Naval Kishore Kumar and Rajan Kumar on behalf of Forward Press recently spoke with Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI-ML, immediately after the 2024 poll results were out. Excerpts:]

Q. If the recently concluded LokSabha elections are seen from the Dalit-Bahujan and Leftist perspective, what is your primary reaction in this regard?

A.  Certainly, the issues on which this LokSabha election was fought had the questions of the poor, farmers, labourers, Dalit-Bahujans at the centre. Being a constituent party of the India Alliance, we can say that we all fought this election together and the slogan of crossing four hundred that was being given, the people of the country have rejected it. If seen, in this election, the people have given their mandate against NarendraModi. You see that in Uttar Pradesh, where Modi, Shah and Yogi were all involved, they have lost. Even in the common area Faizabad (Ayodhya), the BJP candidate lost to the Dalit community candidate of the SP. However, we accept that there have been some shortcomings on our part too, which were discussed yesterday when the alliance meeting was held. We had hoped that we would win more than 20 seats in Bihar. But we could not do so.

Q. Please tell us about the meeting that was held yesterday?

A.  Yesterday we discussed the election results and it is true that NDA has got the majority as an alliance, which has two biggest constituent parties. One of these is Nitish Kumar’s party JDU and the other is Chandrababu Naidu’s party TDP. BJP has not got majority alone and if the government is formed, it will be formed with the support of these two parties. Yesterday we have collectively decided that we will take the right steps at the right time and will fulfill the promises we have made to the public.

Q. If we talk about the beginning of the formation of India Alliance, and then tell us about the journey from the beginning to the meeting held yesterday. How was the experience?

A.  You might remember that before the formation of India Alliance, we had organised a session in the party convention in Patna – on the question of unity. Nitish Kumar ji also came to it. Although at first he said that what I will do by coming here, but later he understood something and came to the convention. Then in the same convention, TejashwiYadav was also present and Salman Khurshid also came from Congress. So in a way the beginning had been made then. Then the result of Karnataka changed the atmosphere and the first meeting was held in Patna regarding the formation of India Alliance. Nitish Kumar was also in it. However, later when the results of the assembly elections in three states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh came, Nitish Kumar started separating, and by January he separated completely. The elections held in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh before the general elections were fought as BJP versus Congress, whereas this election should have been fought under the India alliance, which I see as a shortcoming. If this election had been fought under the India alliance, the results would have been different and its impact on the general elections would also have been positive.

Q. How much impact did it have in those days? And how did you set the narrative after that?

A.  Certainly there was no dearth of challenges. After Nitish Kumar ji’s separation, the notion was rapidly spread that the India Alliance does not exist. All kinds of things were said. Then whatever NarendraModi did in the name of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was an attempt to create a wave. So there were all these things. But after that you can say that the atmosphere changed in the three months of March, April and May. As far as setting the narrative is concerned, the BJP itself did this against itself during its ten years of rule. You remember that even before the 2019 elections, all the signs of attack on the Constitution had started coming. Whether it was the matter of removal of Article 370, or taking away the state status of Jammu and Kashmir, the question of not giving MSP to the farmers and later on the question of Uniform Civil Code and NRC, it started spreading among the people that the NarendraModi government of BJP wants to impose the law made by Brahminist Manu on the country by removing the Constitution made by Dr.Ambedkar. There was the question of inflation, unemployment and corruption. Then the AgniveerYojana worked to add fuel to the fire. So in this way you see that we did not set the narrative against the BJP government of NarendraModi, rather it was set by the government itself among the people. The people who even today consider the Constitution necessary to protect their interests.

Q. It was also a new experience for CPI (ML) that an alliance was formed with parties like Congress, which have feudal elements, and to some extent you also got victory.

A.  See, before 2019, when RohitVemula was institutionally murdered, we took to the streets carrying the ideas of Bhagat Singh and Dr.Ambedkar together. Then people said how can this happen. But we did it. We had an alliance with RJD and Congress in Bihar even before. In 2020, we also achieved success in the assembly elections. You see that there may be feudal elements in the Congress, but in the current era you will find that they are no longer relevant. You see that the question of caste census was also raised by the leaders of the Congress. We all together put this question in front of the country. We raised the question of the interests of Dalits, tribals and backward class people and I am happy that the people of the country heard our questions and gave a mandate against NarendraModi.

Q. Talking about the tribals, it was seen that in the states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh etc. where there are tribals, your party is not seen or let’s say that your influence was not seen. What will you say?

A.  Don’t mind, you have come to talk to me because our party has won in two LokSabha constituencies. But electoral politics has its place and our presence and our struggle have its own place. We stand with the tribals of Jharkhand on their question. You see that the five seats that the All India Alliance has got in Jharkhand, whether it is Dumka or Lohardaga, are all reserved seats for the tribals. We have been fighting there since before. We have been with the tribals on the issue of their water, forest and land. Similarly, we have been with the tribals of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Now, in this entire struggle, not only political parties but civil society is also with them. So the basic thing is that you cannot decide this on the basis of electoral politics or say victory or defeat. You see that in Punjab, our party is working together with the farmers. Then whether it is Uttar Pradesh, Haryana or Rajasthan.

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Vol 57, No. 1, Jun 30 - Jul 6, 2024