Debating India

`BJP has been isolated’

Friday 4 June 2004, by KAUR*Naundhini

Interview with CPI(M) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet is playing a crucial role in the formation of a secular coalition government at the Centre. This is not a new task for Surjeet who, in 1996, helped install the Deve Gowda government and, a year later, helped I.K. Gujral form a secular government. Surjeet has been emphasising that all major secular Opposition parties which have contributed to the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies, should help provide a stable alternative government. He says he has been trying to bring together groups that are interested in the economic well-being and social uplift of the people. Excerpts from an interview he gave Naunidhi Kaur:

The Left Front has secured its highest tally since Independence in the just concluded elections. What are the reasons for this historic win?

This win has been possible because we pursued correct policies. It is a result of our service to the people and dedication to their cause. It is a result of our consistent fight against imperialism.

Even before the elections you have been saying that Vajpayee will not be the Prime Minister again. When the results came were you surprised by the scale of the BJP’s defeat?

No. I was not surprised by the magnitude of the BJP’s defeat. It was our primary task to defeat the BJP and save the country from its deceptive politics. Our battle was against the Hindutva forces, guided by the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] and the BJP. The results showed that we have succeeded in our objective. The BJP has been isolated. In our campaigns we raised issues such as rural development and promotion of secular values. The results have shown that the people have realised the importance of these issues.

Could a secular front not have been formed before the elections?

It was not possible because of the differences among parties. In any case, our primary task at that point was to defeat the BJP. The urgency was to mobilise all forces that would help defeat the BJP. It is only after the results that we have given shape to the front.

In States such as Rajasthan, secular forces would have benefited if a pre-poll alliance had been forged with the Congress(I). There have been instances where the Congress(I) and the CPI (M) have cut into each other’s votes.

That is because in many States, the Congress was not accommodative on seats. In any case, in such States we did not contest many seats. Had the Congress been accommodative, the situation would have been different. The results would have been as exemplary as elsewhere.

From 1998, the BJP has pursued policies that have been disastrous for the country. How would you ensure that the Congress(I) will implement only those policies that benefit the people at large and not the top 10 per cent?

The Congress party is being accommodative about economic policies. They have told us that they are not going to pursue economic policies started by the BJP. I met Manmohan Singh and he has assured me that the Congress is willing to be accommodative on economic policies.

But would the Congress be willing to scrap the Disinvestment Ministry?

Through this Ministry, the NDA has destroyed whatever industry there was in India. That is why we are pushing for a new department, which will offset the damage done by the Disinvestment Ministry.

What would the broad features of the CMP be?

The CMP would take care of the immediate needs of the Indian people - the working class, the peasantry and the middle-class employees. Some of the important issues are health care, education and roads. These would be a part of it. Andhra Pradesh has shown that this is what people vote for and want. There was a lot of talk about globalisation in that State. People have reacted against it. The result is for all to see. The CMP will be pro-poor.

See online : Frontline

P.S.

in Frontline, volume 21, Issue 11, May 22 - Jun 04, 2004.

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