Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat on Saturday maintained that there was no “hard and fast rule'' against the party joining a government at the Centre but participation would depend on the need of the hour and the specific situation facing the country.
The party has in the past given outside support to four coalition governments at the Centre — Janata Party, National Front, United Front and United Progressive Alliance – but has never joined in any of the ministries. The party has been averse to the idea of joining any government unless it had the numbers to influence policies.
The CPI(M) had turned down an opportunity to have Jyoti Basu as premier in 1996; a decision later described by the then West Bengal Chief Minister as a “historic blunder''. The CPI, on the other hand, joined the United Front Government in 1996.
In an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Karat's reply to a question on whether the CPI(M) would join a non-Congress non-BJP government was: “It depends. It's no use going into a hypothetical situation right now. It will all depend on the results and the performance of all the non-Congress non-BJP parties. What sort of an alternative we can present, how coherent it will be, whether we can arrive at a common understanding for a common programme.''
All this, Mr. Karat added, would be factored in. “On that basis, our party can take a decision. We have no hard and fast rule on this; it depends on the need and specific situation.''
Though the issue of Left joining a future government, according to former CPI general secretary A. B. Bardhan, has not been discussed among the Left parties in the recent past, the veteran Communist insisted that “dogmatic positions'' like the one held by the CPI(M) in the past “cannot be carried over to the next elections''. However, he pointed out that this was a hypothetical question and the issue of whether or not to participate in a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative government at the Centre would be decided only when the situation arose.