Sitaram Yechury, who has been unanimously elected as general secretary of the CPI(M) for the second time, has vowed to strengthen the party. The 65-year-old leader, who had taken over as general secretary of the party from Prakash Karat in 2015, discusses his strategy to focus on the unity of the party workers, with Vivashwan Singh
What will be your tentative approach as the General Secretary of CPI(M) for the progress of the party during his second term?
Sitaram: Our priority is strengthening the party. For that, we have taken a large number of decisions at the organizational level. We will continue to hold mass movements to further build up Left unity.
The student and youth organizations of the party have been getting weaker in West Bengal and various others states. Has the Congress provided any roadmap for revival in strongholds?
Sitaram: Yes, on the basis of that we are going to draw in democratic forces and provide a Left and Democratic Front which will project an alternative policy direction for the people.
The BJP and RSS have often criticised CPM for not having a single Dalit member in the Politburo since last 53 years ago. How do you respond to that?
Sitaram: They are the last ones to criticise us. We accept the fact that it is a weakness which needs to be worked upon. In Communist parties, the leadership emerges through struggles and we have seen intense struggles in the Left and Dalits movements since last three years. The Dalits are already there in large numbers in state leadership. It’s only a matter of that a Dalit gets elected into Politburo, but it will surely happen.
The party has constantly referred to its main agenda being the defeat of the BJP and the RSS. Why didn’t the party give more importance on talking about its own resurrection?
Sitaram: What I told in the beginning was the basic thrust of the party congress and we are working on it.
There has been confusion over the amendment in political tactical line in the party.The political resolution now says,’no political alliance’, keeping possibilities open for an electoral understanding with the Congress. Yet, some Politburo members are still reluctant on an electoral alliance with Congress. Clarify your point.
Sitaram: There’s a mistake committed by everyone which is, assuming India to be a monolithic nation. The political structure of India is very diverse and it depends on regional parties. It would be meaningless if CPI(M) and Congress contest together in Uttar Pradesh, because it is dominated by SP and BSP. In Bihar, RJD is the main force and politics revolve around the combination of OBC and Muslim votes. The Left and Congress are inconsequential in Bihar. In the South, Karnataka being an exception, Congress is totally inconsequential in all other states. In states like Kerala, our party’s main fight is with Congress, in Tripura and West Bengal it is with BJP and TMC, so the tactics are going to vary from state to state and there’s nothing sort of ‘All India’ blueprint. I don’t understand this question of Congress and Left going together. In general elections, no electoral alliance has ever emerged before the elections. The United Front in 1996 was formed after the elections and the UPA-I was also formed after the elections. Some people are trying to generate a myth that there will be some sort of front projection before the 2019 elections but it will never happen.
The CPM by not being a part of the government in 1996 and 2004 had made an impression in public that the party shies away from responsibility. Don’t you think being a part of government is always a good opportunity to showcase your ideologies and your experience in running the government?
Sitaram: We always prefer being a part of the government where we are capable of implementing our policies. The places where we had got a mandate, we have ruled there for 7 consecutive terms. No other party has such a record in India. So there’s no question of shying away from responsibility. We will rule only in places where we can implement what has promised to the people.
The BJP’s “Chalo Paltai” slogan did ring bells of TMC’s “Pariborton” slogan. Don’t you think the youth was tired of seeing the same CM since they were born? The party knew that IPFT’s support base was the tribal people, do you think nominating a young tribal face for CM like Jitendra Choudhary could’ve made a difference?
Sitaram: Nominating another candidate wouldn’t have made a lot of difference since it is not a question of symbolism. The point is that the failure to fulfill the growing aspirations of youth in Tripura was one of the main reasons for our defeat. The reason for those growing aspirations was the Left Front rule. In terms of Literacy, Tripura had even crossed the mark of Kerala. Educating the youth and providing them with adequate skills eventually created growing aspirations and the Left was defeated because of its inability to fulfill those aspirations.
The BJP and Congress have been inviting various star campaigners like Yogi Adityanath, Hema Malini, Shashi Tharoor and Md Azharuddin from other states to campaign in Karnataka. Can we expect some of your comrades from Kerala to do the same in the constituencies where you have chances of winning?
Sitaram: Definitely.There’s already a list of star campaigners with the election commission. Not only Kerala, even all India leaders will come to campaign in constituencies where we have chances of winning.
It was you who first talked about the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India; do you believe that judiciary is in danger?
Sitaram: I do. I seriously believe that judiciary is in danger. It has become an institution which is committed towards executive which is a very dangerous trend for a democracy.
What does Sitaram Yechury do when he’s not doing politics?
Sitaram: Sleep, I think.