CPM Politburo member M A Baby speaks to The Indian Express on the Left’s chances in this election and why it is not a referendum on the performance of the LDF government in Kerala
How critical is this election for the CPM?
We approach elections from a national perspective. CPM and the Left are expecting the maximum number of MPs from Kerala. In 2004, the LDF bagged 18 out of 20 seats in Kerala. Now we are trying for a massive victory that can be compared to that of 2004.
How is the situation favourable for you?
The performance of the Pinarayi Vijayan government has created a good impression among the people. Besides, the people realise that only the Left will fight against communalism steadfastly. In Kerala, there is an impression that the Left doesn’t have much role at the national level after elections.
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In the case of economic policies, there is no difference between the Congress and BJP… A good example is the Narendra Modi government’s decision to privatise Thiruvananthapuram airport. The Pinarayi Vijayan government wanted that the airport should be a private-public venture. But, Modi and Shashi Tharoor (Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram) say privatisation is the best option. Take the hike in the fuel prices. The Manmohan Singh government granted the right to fix the price of petrol to oil firms.
When Modi came, the decision to fix diesel price was also granted to oil companies. Then what is the difference between the Congress and BJP?
In 2004, the BJP was ready to form a government. But it was CPM and then general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet who said secular forces should form the government. The rural job guarantee scheme was implemented due to Left’s intervention. We are telling people that Left presence is necessary to ensure programmes which mitigate woes of the people.
Moreover, Modi or Amit Shah cannot buy Left MPs.
CPM is contesting only 71 seats. How can you say you will remain a force in a secular government?
We could have contested more seats. We did not do so to ensure that anti-BJP votes do not get disintegrated…We have shown restraint for the larger interest.
In Kerala, the Left is highlighting achievements of the UPA government of 2004. That means you are appreciating the period of Congress, your main rival in the state. It should not be seen that way. If a non-BJP government has to be formed at the Centre, we would not keep away from it due to blind anti-Congress stand.
How do you see Rahul Gandhi’s candidature in Wayanad?
Rahul’s candidature in Wayanad has shown that the Congress has lost the true perspective. Rahul said he wanted to send a message that India is one. Then he should have contested from the Northeast or Jammu & Kashmir where alienation is felt more.
Do you fear Rahul would be trigger a Congress wave in Kerala?
If Rahul was capable of creating such a wave, we would have seen that in the last five years. In 2014, he had contested from Amethi and his mother Sonia in Rae Bareli. Did we see a Congress wave in UP? Then, how can Rahul create a wave in Kerala?
Will the elections be a referendum on the CPM government in Kerala?
This election is meant to decide who should rule the country…the Pinarayi Vijayan government has an admirable track record. But this election is not a test for the Vijayan government. Of course, the recognition for the state government would reflect in this election.
The entry of young women to Sabarimala after the Supreme Court order has been highlighted as the Left’s determination to protect the renaissance values of the state. But, the Left is now silent. Is the CPM afraid of the Sabarimala fallout?
We have explained our stand and hope that helped clear the misunderstandings. We hope people will understand our stand to protect the renaissance values of the state.