CPM general secretray Prakash Karat is said to be a gentleman politician: honest but uncompromising in his values, which makes him a hero for his cadres. In an interview to the HT, Karat says the Left would not have pulled out from the Congress-led government mid-term, but for the nuclear deal. He also explains what could happen between the CPM and Congress in the future.
Your predecessor, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, was a political genius. Do you miss him as you try for a third alternative?
The basic question for us is our party’s political line and electoral strategy. Harkishan Singh Surjeet was a master in implementing it. In that sense, he is irreplaceable.
The only thing certain about this election, some people say, is the Left will not support the BJP. Is there anything else that is certain?
The CPM will not support the Congress. That is also a certainty. We are entering the electoral battle with efforts to see that non-Congress, non-BJP parties have the sufficient strength after the elections. That is our effort today.
Is it possible that the Congress might support a third alternative?
One, all I can be confident of is that there will be a secular government, i.e. the BJP won’t come back. I am quite certain about that. Two, what we are aiming for is an alternative secular government.
What will be the Left’s role after elections?
Our effort would be more to see that we play a role in bringing about a government with alternative policies. It’s not to see that we are in the government or some people become ministers. We are more concerned about policies.
But in that government, will the Left participate?
If a situation arises where a non-Congress, non-BJP government is possible, we will take up the question of whether we will participate… whether our participation will bring about some alternative policies. (After) being in government, we will have to decide that (issue of prime minister). We are not staking claim on primeministership now.
Do you think if UPA had not gone ahead with the nuclear deal, the Left would have stayed on with Congress?
Most probably. But we would have fought the elections separately. Don’t forget, in the 2006 Assembly elections in West Bengal and Kerala, we fought the Congress even though we extended support to the Central government. We explained to the people that we don’t agree with the policies of the Congress but given the fact that we want the BJP kept out and in the expectation that the Congress will stick to the common minimum programme, we continued support. We don’t destabilise governments at the drop of a hat.
So, you would have eventually parted ways.
If the Congress had not departed from the common minimum programme like this, we would have told the people that after the 2009 elections, we would want a better government. In 2004, under the peculiar circumstances, we had to support the Congress, but we want a non-Congress government this time.