Livemint: Thiruvananthapuram: Thursday, March 02, 2017.
With the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) alliance set to finish a year around two months from now, second-biggest coalition partner Communist Party of India (CPI), Kerala unit, secretary, Kanam Rajendran, talks about his uneasiness with some of the decisions of the government led by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
In an interview with Mint, Rajendran maintained, however, that CPI will stick together with the leading and more influential partner Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, and that nine months was too less a time to make everything “right”. Edited excerpts:
The LDF government will finish a year in office in about two months. Are you happy with its performance so far?
It is too early to comment on the overall performance of the government because an internal assessment is still going on. In general, we are impressed with the four ministers of CPI. We are not disappointed with the government. It’s a different economic situation from the one that existed when we came to power, because of demonetisation and drought, among other issues. So we can’t say we still have the speed with which we began.
Where do you think the government is lacking pace?
There are a lot of issues that are not under our control. Wreckage caused to the economy over demonetisation, price rise, ration issues, drought, education and so on. Personally, my opinion is that the government needs to improve in all sectors.
So everything has not been set right?
I do not have a lot of hope of the government setting everything right soon. Are we fools to think that within nine months after the transfer of power from Oommen Chandy, this will become a paradise? I think everything cannot be made alright that soon.
A news anchor recently wondered whether you along with V.S. Achuthanandan (who has frosty ties with Pinarayi Vijayan) have become the real opposition in Kerala. You have been accusing the government of anti-Left politics. Comment.
We raised criticism when the government used Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against artists and activists, and when the police killed Maoists in what seems to be a fake encounter. When LDF is in power, there should be restrictions on using black laws like UAPA and on Maoist encounters. The government cannot go on by taking anti-Left stance. Only in two states, Kerala and Tripura, the Left is in power. In other states, the Left workers are in a constant struggle and are protesting against anti-Left policies. If Kerala fails to uphold the virtues of the Left, we will be failing them.
You are constantly fighting against the government because of the CM’s working style or is there something really wrong within the coalition itself?
The coalition is not vigilant while approaching some issues. If the government is making mistakes, it is the duty of the coalition to point them out and ask for correction. Take the case of Right to Information (RTI) Act. The government has approached Kerala high court to declare that it is not bound to publicize cabinet decisions under RTI. Who empowered them to give an appeal like that? Where was this discussed? It was not discussed in the coalition. It is an anti-Left stand. We have asked our advocates’ association to implead in the case.
CPI’s only way of influencing the government is through asking its advocates association to implead in a case?
What else you expect us to do? Withdraw from the government because of this?
We have taken a political resolution for broader Left unity, which is the need of the hour. Until and unless we do not change that political resolution, we will continue to fight against anti-Left policies from within the coalition.
That means you are assuming the role of constructive criticism. But how come that criticism does not extend to your own party cadres? One of your leaders recently compared file movements in Kerala and Gujarat and said Gujarat is better. An earlier interview of another of your leaders resurfaced recently, where he said Indians had aircraft during Treta Yuga. Do you support such views?
No one who has seen human development indicators of Gujarat can say it is a state better than Kerala. To say that there were aircrafts in Treta Yuga is akin to spreading superstition. These are not CPI’s views.
So then, what action has been taken against them?
These are personal opinions raised here and there, silly matters. They have a life only in the social media. We don’t consider them as serious political issues.
Critics suggest CPI’s criticism against CPM is only helping your political opposition. Isn’t political climate an important aspect, especially when in power?
We are two different parties. We have not entered into an alliance after signing an agreement that we will agree to all decisions of the other. Even while we agree upon a common LDF manifesto, when it comes to the specifics, there may be disagreements. If those issues are discussed within the coalition, we will raise our criticisms there. If they (CPM) decide to go ahead, like in the case of RTI, without discussing it in coalition, then we are forced to raise these issues in the public.