Interview of the Week

Interview of the Week

The 21st Congress of the CPI (M) will be held in Visakhapatnam from April 14 to 19. It will elect Politburo and General Secretary. The meeting is...

People looking to the Left again

The 21st Congress of the CPI (M) will be held in Visakhapatnam from April 14 to 19. It will elect Politburo and General Secretary. The meeting is taking place when the Left forces are at cross-roads and amid a feverish pitch for capitalist reforms. With the rightist party in power at the Centre and Narendra Modi catching the fancy of the nation, the Left parties are in a quandary over their dwindling support among the public and the road ahead.

Already, Communist Party of India General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy has given a call for the re-unification of the Left parties in the country, stating that it is the need of the hour.

Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member B V Raghavulu feels that active persuasion of corporate-friendly policies by the Modi government in Delhi and the Nara Chandrababu Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh, besides other States, is taking place due to weakening of the Left movement in the country. In an interview with D Gopi, Raghavulu emphasises the need to build strong peoples’ movements across the country to counter the invasion of the corporate sector and dilution of welfare programmes.

The Left strength has come down, particularly in the 2014 general elections. What do you have to say on this?

It is true that the Left parties have failed to make their presence in Parliamentary bodies. We have lost West Bengal and Kerala, too. We have started analysing the reasons at every level. The national conference of CPI-M to be held in Goa too would give more importance to the discussions on the reasons for our failure in particular and the failure of the Left movement in general.

The Sangh Parivar had brought forward its communal face in the form of Narendra Modi just before the elections and launched personalized campaign to reach out to the common man. The corporate sector and the multinationals also backed Modi as they thought that only Modi would take forward the economic reforms in their favour.

Thus both Sangh Parivar and the corporate sector projected Modi as the face of the masses with a hidden agenda. The Sangh intends to dominate the personal life of the people from faith to sex, while the corporates want more benefits from reforms. Taking advantage of the declined strength of the Left, the government is actively pushing forward the pro-corporate policies ignoring the interests of the country and the welfare of the people.

How do you think this pro-corporate approach could be countered?

There is a strong need to contain the speed of the Modi government pursuing the corporate-friendly policies at a greater speed, even bypassing the Parliament. Take for example the ordinance amending the Land Acquisition Act 2014. This ordinance ignores the interests of farmers and land owners and protects those of the corporates and industrial houses.

There was no need for the government to bring about that ordinance and several other such ordinances bypassing the Parliament. As Left parties, we foresee a great threat to the integrity of the nation and welfare of the people if these polices go unchecked. For this reason, we are trying to strengthen ourselves, bring all the Left and secular forces together and build a strong mass movement.

Is Andhra Pradesh State going in the right direction to fulfill the aspirations of people?

The CPI-M had opposed bifurcation because we knew the problems that the people would face, if the State was divided. Power crisis, water troubles, controversies over comment tests and many more are the result of the bifurcation as we predicted. However, at least now the governments should move on the right path to prevent damage caused by bifurcation and take the two States towards development.

Do you think AP government is going in the right direction?

It is unfortunate that the government has adopted some wrong models from Singapore to build its capital. The corporate-friendly approach is more aggressive here with Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu pursuing anti-people and anti-farmer policies. Singapore is a small nation and we are a big State in terms of population and geography.

There are some good practices in Singapore. The government provides housing for the people. It builds houses and gives them for rent. It would have been better if AP government adopted this model. It would solve the housing problem in the State. Singapore developed and became an attractive place for the world because of its port.

Is this government committed to take developing ports in the State? Why is this government not taking ports as its priority, instead of capital? If the ports are developed and rail and road connectivity is provided, corporate companies will line up here. These best practices from Singapore would certainly develop the State as the country’s top State.

But the government took the gambling and entertainment models from Singapore and is trying to replicate this. The government is also repeating the rejected approach of concentrating development in one area. Why is the government acquiring 30,000 acres of land for capital, when the core capital buildings can come up in less than 1,000 acres of land? It is to give the farmers’ lands to the corporate companies to building gambling and entertainment dens along the river. As a responsible party in Andhra Pradesh,

what model of development do you propose for the State?

We would ask for the development of all 14 ports along the coast, provide better road connectivity. This would bring investments and the government need not worry about it or acquire lands for them. We have abundant natural wealth in the State. There are rich oil reserves in Krishna-Godavari basin.

There are equally rich mineral reserves in Rayalaseema. The priority of the government should be development of ports and utilisation of the natural resources and certainly not the capital. We would soon launch a strong agitation across the State and mount pressure on the government to change its agenda and help the people.

The people of Andhra Pradesh were promised many things at the time of bifurcation. But the promises are yet to be kept?

The TDP gave a letter for bifurcation, the BJP supported it and the Congress executed the work. It was the representatives of these three parties who debated. The Congress made some promises and the BJP asked for some. It all happened in Parliament and it is binding to ensure that the promises are fulfilled.

The Congress paid the price for bifurcation, while the BJP and TDP gained. The promises of both BJP and TDP are still afresh in the minds of the people who are waiting for these two parties to create jobs and develop the State. CPI (M) will mobilise all forces and mount pressure on both Center and State governments to keep those promises.

What would be the CPI-M’s agenda in Andhra Pradesh?

We will certainly improve our strength both inside and outside the Parliamentary bodies by 2019 elections. People are slowly realising the mistake of not voting for the Left parties. The absence of the Left parties in the Parliamentary bodies is helping these governments pursue pro-rich polices and neglect the welfare of the proletariat. BJP is creating controversies on non-issues only to divert the attention of the people from major problems and policies.

In AP too, Chandrababu Naidu is projecting the attractive Singapore on priority. He is trying to make people wait eagerly for the multistoried buildings for the capital and forget about issues like employment and welfare. These issues would figure in our widespread deliberations at the State convention to be held in Vijayawada from February 8 and the national convention to be held at Visakhapatnam in April.

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