KOLKATA: Veteran CPI (M) leader JYOTI BASU in an exclusive interview to Ganashakti, spoke about various issues concerning the national and the West Bengal situation. He said, Congress led UPA government at centre continued with policies as similar that had been taken by previous BJP led NDA, which had resulted into their rout in the 2004 election. He dubbed these policies as strikingly anti-people. Hence we need the formation of a third front government at the centre, right now. Now the third Front is the real alternative. I hope, people in the different states of our country will definitely give their opinion for the formation of the Third Front at the Centre in the coming elections.
In the interview, on the state situation he expressed that the Congress and the Trinamool is taking an anti-developmental plank in the state. They even are creating roadblocks for the employment generation efforts aimed towards the unemployed youths of the state. The opposition of West Bengal wants to put the state into back gear.
Q: The situation of the last Loksabha election is remarkably different from this year’s election. Last time the leftists had called to support the Congress but this time the Leftists has called to defeat both the Congress and the BJP in the coming polls. Why is it so, and what is the background of such a call?
Jyoti Basu: It’s true, that the situation in this year’s poll has been remarkably different from that of the last year. Last time after the polls, we had to support the Congress in order to resist the communal BJP from coming into power. If they had succeeded in their endeavor to come into power then the BJP led NDA would transform the entire country into another Gujarat. We didn’t want to let the whole country to transform into a hotbed of the planned genocide that the RSS-BJP combine committed on the Muslim population with the help of their state government in Gujarat. That’s the reason why we supported the Congress led UPA government at centre. It was a strange thing that we had to do, inspite of the fact that it is against the Congress that we have fought against, during our whole life. Still we are fighting against them, but to prevent the forces of communalism at that time we had to support the Congress. But one thing should be kept in mind–our support was not unconditional. We, the left parties supported the UPA on the condition of adhering to the implementation of the common minimum programme.
Q: Then why was that support withdrawn?
Jyoti Basu : Yes! We had to withdraw that support. Because, the Congress committed an act of treachery with the people of the entire country. They didn’t adhere to the common minimum programme. They gave away our independent foreign policy and trounced us under the feet of the US imperialism. Now they are governing the country by adhering to the interests of the USA, which is completely contrary to the interests of the common people of the country. When the government was formed, there was talk that a committee will be constituted from our side as well as a one from their side, which will continuously monitor the performance of the government and the implementation of the CMP. But the Congress has neglected the implementation of the CMP and infact has worked against it. Congress had refused to comply with the verdict of the common people. They don’t do any self introspect, and does not take lessons from their previous mistakes. They continued with those same set of policies that had been taken by the BJP which had resulted into their rout in the previous election. Congress still is clinging to the anti people policies. Hence we, the Leftist had to oppose this.
Q: Then, in this election, what type of government at Delhi are you professing?
Jyoti Basu: We want such a government in the centre which will work for the benefit of the common people of the country, which will pursue a secular policy in combating the danger of communalism. They won’t bow down their heads to the US imperialism and follow an independent foreign policy. Self reliant economy and not a dependent economic policy should guide our country under such a government. We are propagating these views through out the country. Our party is emphasizing in building up a non-Congress, non-BJP secular, democratic government at the Centre, which we are referring as the Third front. Discussions have also been held at our central committee meetings regarding this. Though, due to my illness I couldn’t attend those meetings.
Q: But there has been a certain amount of confusion in the mind of the people regarding this government of the Third Front. Questions are arising as to whether formation of such a government is really possible ,whether all the constituents of such a government will be unified in the long run ,whether they be able to maintain their equi distance from the Congress and the BJP- these are questions that are being raised against this effort . What is your take on this?
Jyoti Basu: I have been informed by our party leaders, that the various regional parties has already responsed positively to the call. We are telling them to be unified on the basis of some principles. This is true that building up a third front is a very difficult task. But we have to make it happen. Because the policies that were adopted by the Congress and the BJP while running successive government at the centre has been, out and out against the interests of the common people. So we need the formation of a third front government at the centre right now. Third Front is the real alternative. I hope, people in the different states of our country will definitely give their opinion for the formation of the Third Front at the Centre in the coming elections.
Q: What is your take on the alliance that the anti-left forces of the state has entered upon, in order to fight the election against the Left Front in West Bengal?
Jyoti Basu: I have heard that the Congress and the Trinamool has entered upon an alliance. Another party which boasts of itself as a leftist one, has also joined hands with these extreme rightist forces. Again another outfit which is killing our party workers and leaders with the help of gun power has aligned with them. It is a fact that the opposition of the state has always fought unifiedly against the Left front, sometimes openly, sometimes covertly. But they should tell the people of state on the basis of what principles and programmes did they enter into an alliance against us? But they are not telling the basis of their alliance in front of the common people. In reality they don’t have any programmes or principles. Only they have a one point agenda that is to defeat the Left front of the state by any means. For that, they are not shying away to form any unprincipled alliance. They want to break the territorial integrity of the state and to severe the state into small pieces. So they are now joining hands with the cessionist forces, and are even aligning with the terrorists. The people of West Bengal will never comply with these goals of the opposition. I’ve got full faith in the consciousness of the people of our state from their own experience they have realized who are their real enemies and who are their real allies. They won’t vote for these opportunist forces in the elections. I believe that people of our state will vote positively for the Left Front of our state.
Q: Although the Loksabha elections are held throughout the country the opposition of this state is bringing forward the state issues in front in these elections. What is your opinion on this?
Jyoti Basu: There’s nothing much to say on the main opposition party of the state. Recently I had come across a report in an all India English daily where I saw a report which said that their supremo has got the lowest attendance at the last Parliament amongst all the 42 MP’s of the state. This is the reality and on the other hand for the last 32 years, time and again the people of our state have elected us continuously. People know us and on the other side they are also observing the role that is being played by the opposition in the state. Our government is continuously working for the welfare of the masses, and will continue to do it in the future. When that government is trying to develop industries I our state along with the development of agriculture, the opposition is crying foul over this. The opposition infact is trying to impend upon any welfare work aimed towards the masses of the state. The Left Front government of West Bengal has done many works for the welfare of the common people of the state. Currently we are the first in the country in agriculture and we are trying to develop it further. In this process help should be taken from the agricultural scientists and from the experts of the agricultural universities, to improve the productivity of the agricultural yield of our state. Not a single case of Farmers suicides has happened in our state. We are also the frontrunner in the country in social forestery, pisciculture, and in many other parameters. We have distributed more than 13 lakh acres amongst the poor landless farmers of our state. This work has been unprecedented in the entire country. More important the Left front government has been able to install a sense of confidence in the minds of the poor people of the state.
Q: The opposition is trying to create a sense of confusion in the minds of the minorities especially the Muslim community. What’s your view on this issue?
Jyoti Basu: Has Congress and Trinamool ever come in aid of the minorities of the state or catered to the interests of the Muslims in West Bengal? When Babri Masjid was demolished Mamata Banerjee was then a minister at the Centre. At that time she never uttered a single word of protest against that. She even had send Narendra Modi, garlands after his win in the assembly election. It is that government, which had carried out genocide on the Muslim population in Gujarat. I still remember the events, prior to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in a meeting in Delhi I had told Narsimha Rao ,the then Prime Minister of India ,that though we don’t like to apply article 356 on any state government ,still in this case if required, apply it. Later Comrade Surjeet and I called him over telephone requesting him to take immediate steps as the situation was fast worsening. He told us that a meeting of his party has been scheduled and he will discuss it out there. But he didn’t act. Later when the Liberhan Commission called us, then I had informed the Justice that I have a cassette in my possession which will depict what the BJP leaders had been saying after the demolition.
Q: The opposition is talking of the report of the Sachar committee…
Jyoti Basu: The Sachar Committee is a recent one. But back when we first came to power, then itself we had decided that we will work towards the upliftment of the Muslims, who are financially, socially and educationally in a backward position. We worked towards the social upliftment of the Muslims and to enhance their social condition. So we have developed many madrasahs, and the Madrasah teachers are being paid through the state exchequers which is unparallel in the country. Special stipends are also being allotted to the students from the minority community. To enhance self employment prospects amongst the minorities, loans are also being sanctioned. An Urdu academy has also come up. A major portion of the 30lakh odd farmers who have received land under the Land reforms programme in the state are from the minorities’ community. But the Sachar report has overlooked these facts. But we have to work more in this field. We will do it and elaborate plans for this purpose has already been drawn. More importantly in West Bengal the interests of the minority people in the state are protected. In the era of Left Front there has not been a single case of rioting against the minority community. This success has been attained as we are in power. People from the minority community have also realized this.
Q: What is your take on the anti industrialization plank of the opposition in the state?
Jyoti Basu: This is not a new issue. In the past also, the opposition has been against any industries to come up in the state. After independence it was for the Central government’s policy that West Bengal became a backbencher in terms of industrialization. The Left Front government had to start afresh on the efforts to industrialize the state. We had to wait for 11 years to get the sanction of the Centre for Haldia Petrochemicals. I still remember that after 1984 Loksabha election I had called for an meeting of the MP’s elected from the state so that we can press our demand to the Centre for development of the state irrespective of the party angle. But in that meeting also Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, Ajit Panja and Mamata Banerjee had walked out of it within 3 minutes of starting the meeting. Now many people are coming to build industries in the state. We have to be on the path of industrialization to cater to the job prospects of the unemployed youths of our state. Nowhere in the country has so much compensation given and rehabilitation schemes been taken for the benefit of the land losers whenever the state and Central government are acquiring land for public purposes. The opposition is creating roadblocks in the way of development of the state and is coming in the way of creating employment opportunities for the unemployed youths of the state. They want to put the state into back gear. The people of the state won’t forgive them.