CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat is a troubled man. After a disastrous election, the party has been stricken by factionalism in its Kerala unit and cracks in its Bengal citadel. Excerpts from an interview with Smita Gupta:
Kerala CM V.S. Achuthanandan is dropped from the politburo, but no action against scam-accused state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. It looks as if the CPI(M) ‘benefited’ from the deal.
Achuthanandan’s being dropped for violations of organisational norms and indiscipline should not be linked to our stand on the SNC Lavalin case. We are convinced there is no wrongdoing on the part of Vijayan. When the case comes up in court, the truth will be established. If we had any grounds to believe he was involved in corruption, he would have been removed not just from the party secretaryship but from even the party. Achuthanandan is the seniormost leader of the party and the central committee has stated that he shall continue to fulfil his responsibility as Kerala CM.
In Bengal, corrupt panchayat members have destroyed the civil administration. How will you possibly clean up the party without throwing virtually everyone out?
Our achievement in decentralising powers and building a three-tier panchayat system, vital in increasing the people’s participation in governance and development, shouldn’t be confused with problems relating to the performance of elected party panchayat members. Bureaucratic behaviour, malpractices etc have caused alienation...we are identifying such trends/ persons and taking steps to rectify the situation. The process of rectification will take time. There is no question of throwing everyone out, but certainly, bad eggs will be removed.
In retrospect, do you think the CPI(M) shouldn’t have severed ties with the Congress over the N-deal?
There’s no way we could have gone along with the UPA to forge a strategic alliance with the US. True, the N-deal wasn’t an issue on which we could mobilise people but that was not our only electoral issue. We campaigned against the Congress government’s economic policies, against communal forces. Even if we hadn’t withdrawn support on the N-deal, there was no possibility of going to the elections in alliance with the Congress.
If you hadn’t split with the Congress, you might have prevented the tmc-Congress alliance.
The Congress hadn’t shown any hesitation in the past in joining anti-Marxist forces. In the panchayat polls before we withdrew support in 2008, the Congress had an unofficial alliance with the tmc.
Despite having little in common with parties like the TDP or BSP, you joined forces and gave a call for an alternate government. Just pique with the Congress or a considered strategy?
The call for an electoral alternative was correct but we should not have extended that to a call for an alternate government as alliances were limited to a few states and there was no common policy platform.