Prakash Karat, polit bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was in Kolkata to campaign for candidates of the Left Front for the Lok Sabha elections. A day before the penultimate phase of the seven-phase general elections, amid a grueling campaign schedule in the soaring heat in Kolkata, the CPI(M)’s former general secretary spoke about national and international political issues. Edited excerpts of an interview with Sandip Chakraborty in Kolkata:
On the National Political Scenario
Already majority of phases of elections are over in the country. In this election, the issues of the people, such as unemployment, farmers distress etc. have come to the forefront. These are the result of the (Narendra) Modi government’s policies. Hence, to divert attention, they (Bharatiya Janata Party) are talking of national security and trying to rouse nationalist feelings, especially as they did not deliver what they promised in the last Lok Sabha election, that is, giving remunerative prices to farmers i.e., cost of production plus 50%, the demonetisation move and joblessness in the economy.
Contrary to their (BJP’s) 2014 poll promise of creating two crore jobs each year (10 crore jobs in five years), at present the unemployment rate is the highest in the past 45 years. All this is going to impact the outcome of this election.
All over the country, there have been brazen attacks on womens’ rights after in the past five years. To stall these facts from coming to the forefront, they are using their tested weapon of communal rhetoric and jingoistic nationalism to polarise the people. This is what Right-wing forces do all over the world. We are a multi-lingual, multi-religious society. Their aim is to impose Hindutva as an ideology and divide people, as well as implement neo-liberal economic policies.
The Situation in Bengal
In Bengal, with vengeance like never before, they (BJP) are trying the same game plan. In the past few years, they have orchestrated more than two dozen riots. Ram Navami processions were held every year but were never observed in this manner to create provocation among people in the state.
The TMC (ruling Trinamool Congress), with its autocratic politics, has created a fertile ground for Hindutva forces to penetrate. Both the parties -- BJP and TMC -- are playing communal politics in such a manner so as to marginalise the Left in the state. All efforts are being made, including by the corporate media, to project BJP as an alternative to TMC’s lumpen politics.
Here it is imperative to say that the first Lok Sabha seat that BJP won from Bengal in 1998-99 was with the help of TMC. Now they are both playing a role in the communal polarisation of the state.
The Right- wing communal government is also hostile to pro-people programmes. The Modi government has got a twin agenda in the country -- the communal agenda and the agenda of neo-liberal economic policies to undermine whatever pro-people gains have been there.
The BJP is not going to get a majority and in the post-poll scenario, it will not be in a position to form the government after the results of the ongoing Loksabha elections are out on May 23.
The prospect of forming a secular, non-BJP government is bright. In this scenario, it is a must that all secular forces come together to form a coalition government. An increased Left presence in the Lok Sabha is necessary to ensure that some pro-people measures are on the agenda.
On the Situation in Venezuela
In their aim for regime change, the imperialist block led by the US has imposed an illegal blockade on export of Venezuelan oil, the largest source of foreign income for that country. The idea is to throw that country into economic hardship to fulfill their illegitimate wish.
Also, the same forces are financing the Right-wing opposition of Venezuela and, contrary to international norms, have declared opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim President. They are illegitimately trying to organise a coup amongst the Venezuelan Army to siege power from the democratically elected government. It was only a week ago that such a plot was foiled, as the Army remained loyal to the Venezuelan constitution and to its elected government.
Their attempt is to roll back whatever progress has been achieved due to the Bolivarian Revolution that took place under the leadership of President Hugo Chavez. Charting an undemocratic route, the imperialists led by the US, are trying to impose sanctions, which is illegal. Only the United Nations is authorised to impose such sanctions.
Earlier, the US was the largest importer of Venezuelan oil. It has stopped oil imports in order to put pressure on the elected government of Venezuela and has illegally confiscated the assets of the Venezuelan public sector oil company that they had in the US.
On India’s International Role
The problem is that the Indian government is surrendering to the diktat of the US. Before this, the US had asked India to stop Iranian oil imports, to which they readily obliged. Now these illegal sanctions, which are not ratified by the UN, are being adhered to by the Modi government. Such brazen steps are even harming our country’s energy security. In the case of Iran, and in the case of Venezuela, the Modi government has acted against national interests.
Interestingly, it was US National Security Advisor John Bolton, when India sought support in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, who called up Indian authorities and told them to stop Venezuelan oil imports. By doing this, they are making our country import oil from expensive sources and are also trying to make us dependent on US oil, which is also dangerous for our country’s energy security of our country. Even US’s NATO ally, Turkey, refused to budge to such a diktat from the US, saying that that their energy security was their own responsibility. But the Modi government has surrendered our national interests, as it has become a junior US ally.