Third Front allies will not desert after polls: Sitaram Yechury (Interview)

April 5th, 2009 - 1:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By T.G. Biju
New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury has discounted the possibility of its allies in the so-called Third Front embracing the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the Lok Sabha polls.

CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury also admitted in an interview with IANS that while he did have “differences” with party general secretary and long-time friend Prakash Karat, these were not antagonistic in nature.

Yechury, 57, said that regional parties such as the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and the Janata Dal-Secular in Karnataka had teamed up with the Left because of pressure from their support base.

This, he argued, would not allow them to go over to the BJP or the Congress after the April-May elections - unlike in the past.

“The mass following of many of the regional parties is putting pressure on their own leadership for a shift in policy direction,” Yechury told IANS, citing as an example the Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) decision to end its alliance with the BJP after 11 long years. “Mass pressure is working from below. (If not) why did the BJD leave the NDA (BJP-led National Democratic Alliance)?”

Congress and BJP leaders have said that the Third Front can never win the elections, and that in a hung parliament many Third Front partners would switch loyalty to one of the two main national parties.

Yechury insisted this would not happen. He said the parties now associated with the Communists would not change their position after the elections because “they have learnt from their past experiences”.

Yechury, who has been a member of the CPI-M’s politburo since 1992, underlined that the Left parties, which function as a bloc in parliament, would have a major role in the post-poll scenario.

“We have given a coherent reason why the country requires an alternative (policy framework). The Left will have a major role to articulate these concerns.”

Yechury admitted to differences with Karat, who has taken an adamant stand that his party would not prop up the Congress after the polls, in contrast to 2004.

“There will be differences,” Yechury said when asked about media reports. “There may be at times serious differences. It is natural. We are not a high command party. We are a party which has internal democracy. But once a collective decision is taken in the party, then that is implemented.”

Asked if the CPI-M had any problem in projecting Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati as the prime ministerial candidate of the Third Front, he said: “We have no problem with anybody.”

However, he added: “All the issues will be taken up in the post-poll scenario.”

Yechury also said that outgoing Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s absence from the elections will not have any impact on the CPI-M’s prospects in West Bengal.

“Somnath Chatterjee had declared, even before his expulsion (from the party), that he would not contest elections any more. I don’t think (his exit) will create an impact because he himself would not have been in the election campaign even otherwise.”

Yechury said the violent protests in Singur and Nandigram over takeover of farm land for industry would polarise votes in favour of the Left in West Bengal as it had revealed “who is for development and who is against”.

The CPI-M leader said the party had not, for now, changed its stand of not joining a central government unless it can play a dominating role.

“After the 1996 experience (when the CPI-M denied its leader Jyoti Basu an opportunity given by National Front allies to become prime minister), our party discussed the issue thoroughly in our 16th party congress in 1998. And we decided that if at all such a situation emerges in the future, the central committee will take a decision.”

So who will be the prime ministerial candidate of the CPI-M if such a situation arises?

Came the reply: “First let us decide whether we will join (the government).”

(T.G. Biju can be contacted at

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