Kerala

Kerala Assembly polls | Defeating BJP, its allies single-point agenda of CPI(M) and Left parties, says Yechury

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury during an interaction with The Hindu.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Defeating the BJP and its allies is the single-point agenda of the CPI(M) and the Left parties in the elections to four Assemblies and the Union Territory of Puducherry, says CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who’s campaigning in Kerala for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by his party which is seeking the mandate to retain power.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

The BJP is flaying the Left for feigning a fight with the Congress in Kerala and aligning with it elsewhere. Isn’t that a contradictory stance?

It is different from State to State as to how you achieve the objective of defeating the BJP. There’s no contradiction in it. In 2004, for instance, the Left won 61 members to the Lok Sabha and 57 of them had defeated Congress candidates and we supported the Manmohan Singh government. The people of Kerala had given us 18 of the 20 MPs from the State knowing full well that after the elections we will support any secular alternative to stop the BJP and the communal forces from forming the government.

The government of Kerala acted in the interests of the State and the people amidst adverse circumstances and its work has been appreciated. We are therefore not only seeking a comeback, but a complete isolation of the communal forces and the BJP.

But hasn’t a series of allegations put the government on the back foot?

On the contrary, all these things have remained allegations for months on end. If there was any merit in them, it would have been established by now. But the fact that these continue to be allegations and that they are still thrown around despite the clarifications made and facts shown and proven by the Chief Minister’s Office makes it clear that on the issue of people’s welfare, on the question of an alternative policy approach, the Opposition is bankrupt. They require such issues to divert people’s attention. They are desperate to try and create an issue on which they can mislead people.

The Opposition leader in Kerala has now approached the High Court alleging fraud in the voters’ list

The voters’ list is prepared by the Election Commission of India and there’s a laid down procedure for it. A date is announced by which time anybody who wants to include his/her name on the list should do so. There’s a date for raising objection against the inclusion of anyone and once a decision on this is taken, the final list is published. While that’s the case, why did the Congress not raise the objection then? The State administration has nothing to do with the process.

The BJP and the Congress are seeking to rally the people around Sabarimala

As I said, they are bereft of actual issues. What’s there to be a controversy on Sabarimala now. The initial verdict has now been referred to a larger bench whose remit includes many larger issues. Until the Supreme Court pronounces an opinion on that, nothing can be done.

If your stated aim is to defeat the BJP, isn’t the three-cornered fight leading to a split in anti-BJP votes in West Bengal?

In West Bengal, the BJP registered a big gain in the last Lok Sabha elections. Anti-incumbency votes and people’s anger against the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government went in favour of the BJP. So, the tactics we adopted in West Bengal are to defeat the BJP and also defeat the TMC so that the anti-incumbency vote does not go to the BJP.

The aim, therefore, is to attract the secular anti-incumbency vote and deprive the BJP of that advantage.

But is the alliance with the ISF secular?

They say the ISF leader is a so-called fundamentalist. Here’s a person who formed a party known as the Indian Secular Front. The president of the party is an adivasi. The candidates given by the party include high caste Hindu Brahmins, Dalits, LGBT people and he made the people take a pledge at the mammoth brigade rally sating ‘We are Indians, neither Christians, Hindus or Muslims’.

We go by the public position adopted by a party, not by a private individual’s faith — and that’s the right each one of us has — and so long as it doesn’t reflect in politics, it doesn’t interfere within the functioning of the state. Separation of your religion or your faith from politics and government, that’s the yardstick of secularism. Why isn’t the same yardstick applicable to the BJP and other parties?

You have raised serious concerns about the use of Electronic Voting Machines the other day, demanding a cent percent matching of VVPAT paper trail with EVM data.

It has been our demand from day one. From the moment doubts arose on the objectivity of the use of EVMs, we said that in order to assuage these doubts, let there be a paper trail and in case of any doubts, let the papers be counted in the recount... But the use of VVPAT in just a booth per constituency is way too inadequate.

We are seeking a cent per cent matching because doubts are persisting. It was said there were enough safeguards as the chip in the machine was standalone, free from interferences. But that’s no longer the case with the introduction of VVPAT, which is placed in between the EVM and the control unit. When you press the EVM, vote is registered in the control unit. You are satisfied that what has gone into the VVPAT is what you pressed, but not sure if that’s what has gone into the control unit. Ideally, the VVPAT should have been placed after the control unit.

Further, the introduction of names, symbols and order on the ballot is interlinked with the VVPAT with the involvement of private agencies. Unlike earlier, the order in which names and symbols appear is put up in a central server of the ECI and gets downloaded from there. If something can be downloaded from a server into the EVM machine, it is no longer a standalone machine.

But the ECI is mulling introduction of remote voting in the next LS polls

It’s very dangerous. One of the fundamental foundations of the method of voting is the physical verifiability of the voter. If you cannot ensure that, any other way of doing it opens it up to lot of misuse.

The BJP promises an anti-conversion law in Tamil Nadu and an ‘anti-love Jihad’ law in Kerala when the court itself has said there’s no such thing as love Jihad. Similarly, it promises to implement the CAA in West Bengal and Kerala and not in Assam. How do you respond?

As far as the law is concerned, the Constitution guarantees every adult the right to choose his or her life partner. No law can violate that. There’s no such thing as love jihad and the target is interfaith marriage. So the BJP is trying to say the youth cannot decide whom they want to spend the rest of their lives with; they [the BJP] will decide for them [the youth]. This is anti-Constitutional.

The Union Home Minister tells in Assam that they will not implement the CAA. But says in West Bengal and Kerala that they will implement it. Till date, his own Ministry has not framed the rules.

The CAA is not a law for them. It is an instrument for deepening communal polarisation. Their political fortunes are tied up with the consolidation of the Hindtuva communal vote bank.


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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 5:23:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/kerala-assembly/kerala-assembly-elections-2021-interview-with-cpim-general-secretary-sitaram-yechury/article34177211.ece

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