Almost in political wilderness after losing grip even in areas perceived its bastion, the navratnas—the think tank comprising top nine key leaders--of the Communist Party of India (CPI) have opted for Chandigarh to chalk out a fresh strategy and bounce back at the national political arena. The immediate challenge before the Left leaders is the Bihar assembly polls. Hence, the focus of the national council meeting that began on Wednesday is on the upcoming assembly polls, future plans and revival of mass movements.
Punjab bureau chief Pawan Sharma talked to D Raja, Rajya Sabha MP and national council secretary, on a range of issues concerning the CPI. Excerpts from the interview:
What are the core issues which the CPI’s top brass will discuss during the three-day national council meeting here?
The focus will be on economic and political developments during the one year rule of the Narendra Modi government, besides hosts of other issues, including the Bihar assembly polls. The one year of the Modi government has been dominated by pro-corporate-houses policies. The economy is in a bad shape and Make in India is an eye-wash.
The government hasn’t controlled prices despite fall in prices of crude oil in the international market. Agriculture is in a deep crisis and farmers are passing through unprecedented distress and committing suicide. Now, the government is pushing the land acquisition amendment bill and is not addressing farmers’ concerns.
What are the CPI’s reservations on the Land Acquisition Ordinance?
The way they (BJP) want to push through this bill amounts to land grabbing and helping corporate houses and real estate players. It is anti-farmer and anti-agriculture. We will review how to carry forward our struggle on this front.
How will land acquisition ordinance become farmer-friendly? How is it different from that of the 2013 legislation that the CPI also supported?
The social impact assessment and the consent clause were there in the 2013 legislation. The BJP is taking away both. There is no clear approach towards compensation and for what purpose the land will be acquired. On the one side, we talk about food security and on the other you allow the agricultural land to be taken over. To top this, they are systematically giving push to their Hindutva agenda and are raising sectarian issues.
What type of sectarian issues you are referring to?
Since Modi came to power, the RSS, VHP and all Sangh Parivar outfits have become aggressive and offensive. The BJP is a political arm of the RSS and they raise all Hindutva issues which are very divisive. Amit Shah claims Hinduism has solution to every problem in the country, while Sushma Swaraj is projecting Sanskrit. Nobody can have objection to Sanskrit as a language. Why this deferential treatment to Sanskrit? They consider Sanskrit and yoga as part of their Hindutva agenda. Such things are posing a grave threat to the secular fabric of our country and the Constitution--secular, democratic and republican Constitution.
The Opposition is demanding the resignation of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje on the Lalit Modi controversy. The Prime Minister is silent on the issue. What is the CPI’s stand?
We have made it clear that Sushma, Raje and Smriti must resign. But they have not done so even as Advani spoke about credibility in public life. The Prime Minister hasn’t opened his mouth on the controversy. His silence is mysterious. Is there something that the Prime Minister wants to wait and hide? His silence leads to several questions, apprehensions and doubts. That is why the PM must speak up. If these tainted ministers don’t go, then the PM should sack them. We will also discuss the issue at our council meeting.
What are your views on Rahul Gandhi’s style of leadership?
That I won’t speak.
Is Congress playing its role effectively?
Taking up certain corruption issues alone is not enough. The Congress needs to review its own economic policies -- the neo-liberal economic policies that it implemented when in power. The CPI feels the Congress has to do serious introspection about its own economic policies. We were critical of these policies when Manmohan Singh was the PM. These policies have proved disastrous.
In certain sections concerns are being raised over the Prime Minister’s proposed visit to Israel. What is the stand of the CPI on this visit and foreign policy initiatives?
Where is the foreign policy initiative? That’s a misconception. If Modi goes to Israel our traditional friendship with Palestine would be affected. That is where we want to caution the NDA. Because of your closeness with Israel our traditional friendship with Palestine people and our support to Palestinian cause should not be affected. This we have cautioned them.