Assailing Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model as mere ‘hot air’ that lacked substance, Brinda Karat, the CPI (M) leader and Polit Bureau member, campaigning for the Left party candidates in Tamil Nadu, spoke to P.V.Srividya on the Left model of development, the space for a post-poll alliance with Jayalalithaa, on women’s reservation and their representation in politics.
What do you make of TN Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s call to reject the BJP as well as the Congress? Would the CPI (M) join a Third Front floated by Jayalalithaa post-poll?
It was more on the issue of Cauvery and not on the basic issue of the RSS and the BJP. There can be no compromise with communal forces regardless of the religion they masquerade under, and we are still waiting for her to speak against the basic issue of communalism. She has not done that and that’s a serious concern for minorities in Tamil Nadu. We’ll have to see after the elections.
The Left’s campaign plank looks like a negative plank of rejection, as opposed to the positive campaign model launched by the BJP. Is that good enough?
We have been posing our own models of development. Modi talks about the Gujarat model; we’ve talked about the Bengal model, the Tripura model, the Kerala model. If you look at the combination of the three, most of the issues dogging India today have been tackled by the Left governments in these three States. If you look at the issue of social indicators, Kerala model is far above the Gujarat model; on the issue of inequality, the Bengal model based on land reforms is superior; and on the issues of national security and unity of the people, the Tripura model is a shining light of harmony among different ethnic communities of the Northeast. This is because of the Left approach on how to deal with these problems. Beyond the TV and corporate branding of Narendra Modi, it is only hot air that has a tendency to rise, but there’s nothing substantive about it.
There has been poor representation for women candidates, even in parties helmed by women. You have been spearheading the demand for the Women’s Reservation Bill. Is it that power eventually speaks the language of patriarchy irrespective of who wields it?
I think there is a definite improvement in the number of women as far as my party’s list is concerned. We have very good women fighting this time, and the seats where they are fielded are also very critical, like the seats in Calcutta or in Chennai. In India, you don’t have a limit to the number of terms an MP can fight from a constituency. If an MP has won more than once, or thrice as the case is in most of the constituencies, for any political party, it is not easy to change the candidate unless it is backed by law. We need to look at it beyond the question of patriarchy, and into the fundamental question of reforms in our electoral system. That’s been the worldwide experience.