The Left parties should not have withdrawn support to UPA-I government on the issue of Indo-US nuclear deal, says CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on a dramatic political event of 2008 that led to snapping of ties with the Congress and the steep decline of the communists ever since.
Instead, they should have withdrawn support on issues like price rise as the people could not be mobilised on the nuclear deal issue in the 2009 general elections.
However, Yechury asserts that the party’s decision to oppose the nuclear deal was correct.
“We said that this was not the issue (to withdraw support). We reviewed it later. In hindsight, we have said we could not make it a people’s issue (in the elections). It should have been a people’s issue like price rise and the UPA abandoning the ‘aam aadmi’ perspective,” Yechury told.
“And it was also the timing (of withdrawal) for which we also self-criticised. But the issue of (opposing) the nuclear deal, we have no regrets and we think is correct.”
He says by going ahead with the nuclear deal, it was a signal that the UPA wanted to jettison the Left.
The Indo-US nuclear deal was not part of the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme, he says but there was “tremendous pressure on India to be a subordinate ally of the US strategic interests in the world. We have been vindicated on this”.
Yechury was replying to a question on the decline of the Left forces including CPI (M) after the 2009 elections and whether snapping ties with UPA on the Indo-US nuclear deal was a mistake.
While the Left got 64 seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, its numbers fell to 24 in 2009 and 10 in the 2014 polls.
In 2009, the CPI (M) Central Committee had said in its poll review: “The decision to withdraw support to the (UPA-I) government when it decided to go ahead to operationalize the nuclear deal was correct.
“It was based on our understanding that the Party cannot support a government which is entering into a comprehensive strategic tie-up with US imperialism in which the nuclear deal was. . . ‘The cementing factor’. However, we could not mobilise people on the nuclear issue and rally them during the election.”
To questions regarding the direction given by the CPI (M) Congress recently in Vishakhapatnam where he was elected the General Secretary, Yechury says, “CPI (M) is the party of the future and we have to emerge that way.”
According to him, for the next three years, the party’s primacy would be to first arrest the decline, then regain and then restore people’s confidence in it.
The party has decided to do organisational revamping and intends to substantially improve its independent strength and do political intervention on policy matters. It has decided to hold a special Plenum later this year to specifically discuss ways to beef up its organisational strength.
The next task, Yechury says, is to unite the Left which is dispersed among various parties, many of whom operate at the state levels.
“We have to unite these Left parties and a large section of non-party sympathisers and intellectuals to a common agenda. Through this, we will seek the unity of Left and democratic forces to present a policy alternative to counter the ruling classes.”
The 63-year-old parliamentary party leader, who has a reputation of practising pragmatic politics, says the party is also ready to forge a front with Congress in Parliament on issues like land bill and secularism but ruled out being part of a national front or alliances outside because “they are not credible”.
“Inside Parliament, we have said we will unite on all these issues (like land bill), issue to issue which we think are not in the interests of the country and the people.
The CPI (M) leader was replying to a question as to what will be the party’s stand on tying up with Congress and other parties to take on BJP.
On Rahul Gandhi’s recent campaign on issues like land bill, he said it is good “but right now there is no coherent alternative the Congress is offering. Now we will have to wait and see the next important thing that will come.”
Yechury said the GST Bill and the labour law reforms the government is trying to push can be a new area of opportunity for joint action.