Unperturbed after his draft political-tactical line was defeated at the recently held Central Committee meeting of the party, CPI(M) secretary general Sitaram Yechury says the party congress would decide the final line to follow. In a detailed interview to Sreeparna Chakrabarty, Mr Yechury maintained that the differences in the party were not personal but related to tactics political in nature and asserted that though the majority view prevails, the minority has a right to be heard and go up to the highest forum. He also expressed confidence that the party congress would pragmatically decide how to achieve the objective of containing ascendancy of the RSS-BJP combine.
What is the difference all about? Do you think this it is personal?
I continue to maintain that these are differences over tactics. Since they are political differences, there are methods of resolving them, which we have employed. Majority view prevails in the party but minority can have the right to go up to the highest forum that is the party congress but whatever is decided by the majority becomes the party line to follow.
Unlike other political parties, we have a very vibrant inner-party democracy in our party. Differences get reduced to personal ego clashes or personal preferences in other political parties, but that is not the case with us; there is a clear difference of how to approach to achieve the main objective of defeating this BJP government.
But you offered to quit. You wanted your draft to be put to vote. This is serious, how does one take it from here?
It was not that I insisted that there be a vote but when there is a difference of opinion, there is no other way to resolve it except through a vote. When the draft I had presented was not accepted by the central committee, I offered to resign. I felt it was untenable for me to continue. I relented when the Politburo unanimously said that my resignation would send across a wrong message. I accepted the majority opinion and conveyed it to the central committee which unanimously endorsed it. These are the facts which I narrated in the press conference after the central committee meeting also.
What then is the difference between the two drafts?
Both the drafts state the same thing. In the document I presented to the central committee, I have mentioned that the main task before the party is to defeat the communal offensive led by the RSS-backed BJP government. On that there is no dispute in the party.
How do you go about doing this?
We will require the independent strength of our party and its political interventional capacities to grow stronger. This means we have to work with greater cooperation with the Left parties and strengthen Left unity. Then we will expand our base to include other democratic forces which need not be only political parties but also people’s movements and bring them all together in order to forge a Left and democratic alliance or a front which will pose a policy alternative to the present government. Also, the offensive which is being carried out for political polarisation and the Hindutva nationalism aimed at transforming our secular democratic republic into the RSS vision of a Hindu rashtra would be combated through campaigns along with all the secular forces.
Further, as elections approach, we will work out appropriate tactics to achieve this objective of ousting this BJP government while not entering into any electoral alliance or a front with ruling class parties. The point of difference is on what tactics we will employ to achieve this; whether there should be an understanding with the Congress Party or not. An electoral alliance or front is ruled out by both. In practical terms, in various states where we are weak, our attempt will be to defeat the BJP by joining hands with regional parties which may or may not have an alliance with the Congress Party.
If your party does not align with anybody, does it have enough strength to go it alone?
No. We are under no illusion that we can defeat the communal forces alone. We have prepared a majority draft which will be discussed at the party congress and an appropriate electoral tactic will be worked out which will depend on the ground reality during the time of elections.
What about the alliance with regional parties?
We will have a talk with the regional parties. If a particular regional party is having an alliance with the Congress Party, then it is their business. We don’t have anything to do with the Congress.
Many state committees which do not have numerical strength are with your minority draft. What happens now?
We have constitutionally mandated that the central committee releases the draft political resolution two months before the party congress convenes and this will be released to the entire rank and file of the party. Each party member has the right to move an amendment that will be sent to our central leadership as well as the state committees. These are the constitutional rights no one can change.
Can the minority view, if raised, be accommodated? This is the first time such a situation has arisen.
Only the party congress can decide on how it can be accommodated. It has happened before but not on issues which are for the future. It has happened on issues that have already passed like Jyoti Basu’s prime ministership and the question of withdrawing support from the Morarji Desai government. These issues had gone to the party congress.
In view of the global and Indian situation, do you believe your line is more pragmatic?
Globally, there is a shift towards right. This can be seen from the ascendancy of US president Donald Trump, the Brexit vote and the situation in France and Germany. The political right, extreme right is asserting itself. This is not unnatural. In periods of very intense capitalist crisis, such things happen. In our country also, there is a right word shift. To resist this political right and to stall their further advance, we have to work out tactics. The priority is to ensure that the RSS-backed polity does not control state power in our country. This is a force that needs to be defeated if you want to at least maintain India as we all know, as a country with tremendous diversity.