For 35 years now Kerala has been alternating governments between the CPI(M)-lead Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front(UDF). Going by this, punters would bet on the LDF to form the next government in the state. But Left leaders are not taking a chance.
Senior leaders are touring the state’s length and breadth and Hindustan Times caught up with senior leader and CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan while he was campaigning in Kochi.
In an interview to Viju Cherian he stresses on the anti-people moves of the UDF government, rubbishes rumours that there is a divide among leaders in the CPI(M) and discards the possibility of the BJP winning a seat in this election.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: What is your opinion about the UDF government in Kerala led by chief minister Oommon Chandy?
A: This UDF government has worked against the interests of the people. On the development front this government has pushed Kerala backwards.
Q: Name an area where this government failed.
There are many areas...an important one is agriculture. In the last five years more than 1,300 farmers have committed suicide. Even during the previous UDF government’s term (2001 to 2006) farmers were committing suicide. But from 2006 to 2011, when the LDF was in power, not even one farmer committed suicide. That’s because the UDF does not have the heart to think about the farmer.
Q: Has this government missed opportunities to serve the people?
There are many. The Kochi Metro Rail Project and the airport in Kannur (in north Kerala) would have been fully functional if we were in power. Also this government surrendered the Vizhinjam International Seaport to a corporate house. Behind all these developments there are the hidden interests and corruption by UDF leaders.
Q: How much has the LDF changed since 2011?
The LDF government this time will not be a repetition of the previous one. Our election manifesto makes it clear that we are changing with the times — in agriculture, we will promote the use of latest technologies to increase yield. To improve employment opportunities we will promote electronics, IT, eco-friendly tourism and skill development centres.
Q: Recently Chandy said that the Left has compromised its secular credentials by siding with the BJP in the past. Your comments?
A: When a temple catches fire, irrespective of their faith, everyone works to douse the flames. Similarly, all parties worked against the forces that imposed Emergency. While we ensured that the RSS was not a part of the VP Singh government, it was the Congress that aligned with the RSS to bring that government down.
The Congress has never taken a firm stand against communalism. The best example of the Congress-BJP understanding is the Vadakara-Beypore model —the clandestine deal the Congress and BJP had during the 1991 elections.
Chandy has been repeatedly taken steps to please the RSS. In 2014, Chandy withdrew that nine-year-old case against ABVP-RSS workers for attacking a police officer and also withdrew a case against VHP leader Praveen Togadia for a communal speech me made in Kozhikode in 2003. It is the Congress and BJP that has a tacit understanding in the state.
Q: Is there a difference between VS Achuthanandan and you?
A: On a personal level there is no problem between us. Even in the party level there are no such problems. Leaders in the LDF are united and there are no differences.
Q: Will the BJP open an account in Kerala this time?
A: The BJP will not win even one constituency, because the Kerala cannot accept a party like the BJP. The RSS, which derives pleasure in communal riots and tension, will never win in Kerala.
Q: What will be the LDF government’s liquor policy?
We will declare our liquor policy when we come to power. In our manifesto we have said that we will focus on reducing the demand for liquor through awareness campaigns. We will also make it an offense to serve liquor to anyone below the age of 23.
Q: If the LDF forms the next government, will you be the chief minister?
There are many candidates among us who are fit to be the chief minister. The party will decide who will be the chief minister after the elections.