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Home / Lok Sabha Elections / Lok Sabha elections 2019- ‘It’s unfortunate that Rahul Gandhi contested from Kerala, against Left’: Sitaram Yechury

Lok Sabha elections 2019- ‘It’s unfortunate that Rahul Gandhi contested from Kerala, against Left’: Sitaram Yechury

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in an interview that the Left, whose presence in national politics has diminished over the years, is ready to play a big role in forming an alternative, secular government at the Centre.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: May 01, 2019, 20:57 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury says the Left is ready to play a big role in forming an alternative, secular government at the Centre.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury says the Left is ready to play a big role in forming an alternative, secular government at the Centre.(PTI File Photo)

In the middle of the 17th general elections, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury tells Saubhadra Chatterji in an interview that the Left, whose presence in national politics has diminished over the years, is ready to play a big role in forming an alternative, secular government at the Centre. Edited excerpts:

Polls in 69% of Lok Sabha seats are now over and the BJP claims that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will retain power.

Look at the ground reality. In the first three phases, the BJP had 130 sitting MPs. Everyone knows they have bungled up and it would be very difficult to retain even half of their 2014 tally in these phases. The remaining phases have 241 seats, out of which the BJP won 161 in 2014. To stake a claim (to forming government), the BJP, in these phases, has to return with two-third seats—a near-impossible task for them. They might do a lot of tricks in the post-poll situation. They have their own man as the President. There is apprehension they might be called first as the single-largest party and given a long time to prove a majority. But as of now, they are nowhere near a comfortable majority...

Do you predict a hung Parliament?

It will be hung in a technical sense as no party will have a majority and therefore, there will be a coalition government. Remember, in India all alliances that occur pre-poll do not remain relevant to the post-poll situation. This goes back to even in the emergency-era. In 1977, Janata Party government was formed post-election. The arrangement to support VP Singh emerged after the polls {in 1989}. In 1996, the United Front was formed post-election. NDA {National Democratic Alliance} in 1998 and the UPA {United Progressive Alliance} in 2004 were formed post-election. This time too, the ruling alliance will be formed after the elections and we will give the people of India an alternative, secular government.

Read also: In east UP, Congress banks on Priyanka Gandhi in triangular contest

What would be the Left’s role in an alternative government?

We are committed to support a secular government. We will also help the government pursue policies which are completely different from those of the Modi government. To formulate people-oriented policies, the strength of the Left is important in Parliament. Remember, with the strength of the Left in UPA 1, unprecedented pro-people reforms were initiated such as right to Information, Forest Act, right to food security, the new land acquisition law, MGNREGA —all these were products of that period as a result of the Left’s pressure.

You need more seats in West Bengal to claim a position of power.

The last two years in Bengal, there have been very big mass mobilizations. The crucial point is: will our support base be allowed to vote? That is where the political battle always takes place in Bengal. In the run-up to the last election, 171 comrades lost lives under Trinamool’s attack. This time too, efforts are on by Trinamool to resist Left supporters from voting. They beat up our polling agents. Election Commission says central forces will protect voters from 250 metres from polling booths. But who will protect them on their way from home?

Left goofed up a seat pact with the Congress.

Our objective was clear: defeat BJP and defeat Trinamool. We offered that there should be no mutual contest between the Congress and the Left in six seats. The Congress should answer, why they did not accept this proposal. Now, we appeal to the people as the only consistent anti-BJP, anti-Trinamool force. And people are responding positively to us.

Read also: Uncertainty over SP’s new Varanasi pick Tej Bahadur

Isn’t it an insult to injury for you that Rahul Gandhi is fighting against the Left in Wayanad?

It’s unfortunate that he chose to contest in Kerala. I told them, your grandmother, your mother contested from Karnataka. How do you explain your stand that instead of fighting there where you have to defeat the BJP you came to defeat the Left Democratic Front?

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