Decide on your priority: Yechury to Cong
With the Congress turning away from alliances in states like Delhi, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has said that the main Opposition party should decide on its priority in the electoral battle and if it is to defeat the BJP, then it is time for everyone to remain united.
In an exclusive interview with DH, Yechury said there was no chance for a national-level Opposition alliance before the polls but state-level coalitions could be there like in the past.
"Our message to them (Congress) is decide on their priority. We decided that our priorities are three. One, defeat this BJP alliance for the sake of India and for the sake of ourselves. Two, strengthen the Left. The stronger the Left in Parliament, the better and third, ensure that an alternative secular government is formed at the Centre. Now, we are moving with these objectives," he said.
"If your objectives are also similar and to ensure that, then it is time for everybody to get together," he said when asked what would be his message to the Congress, which does not appear inclined to alliances in states like Delhi and Haryana despite an appeal from the AAP.
Congress has also so far not officially responded to a CPM and Left Front proposal of a no-mutual contest in six sitting seats in West Bengal. CPM has two MPs from West Bengal while Congress has four. Informally, Congress leaders claim that the central leadership has indicated that they may go ahead with no-mutual contest.
Yechury said there can never be a pre-poll alliance at the all-India level because a party which is relevant in one state may be completely irrelevant in another state. "So you cannot have that kind of an understanding. What had always happened is state specific-alliances and then post elections that formation that forms the alternative government will come," he said, adding even after Emergency when Indira Gandhi was defeated, the Janata Party was formed after the elections.
Asked whether a changed electorate would like to know about the face of a united Opposition, he said that will be the "narrative that they (BJP) would want to pitch".
The BJP wants to make it a presidential form of election and that is "exactly the narrative" that was there in 2003 and 2004. The party asked, "Who is the alternative to Vajpayee? Same slogans that this will be 'khichdi' sarkar which will not deliver etc. ...These are all narratives that they would like to build up for elections. But they failed in the past, they will fail again."
On the issues, he said in this election narrative, no parties can escape the basic issues of agricultural distress and unemployment, the issues which were "brought to fore by our struggles".
Asked about the CPM's prospects, he said, "We are going to tell the people to vote for us because what we are seeking is an alternative secular government at the Centre. The stronger the Left is, the stronger will be the pressure on the government to take a pro-people policy direction, which is what happened in the UPA-1."
"The Left strength and presence in Parliament are important to use the situation so that people's livelihood can improve and the country could be safer. So, that will be our appeal and we are hoping that people will respond to it because between 2004 and 2014, is when the slide had happened in terms of numbers," he added.