Oppn has to get together with a policy alternative: Yechury

Gujarat election results have given a new lifeline for the opposition with Congress performing impressively. One of the prominent figures in Opposition, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who is in West Bengal, spoke to me over phone. Excerpts:


How do you analyse the Gujarat results?

In Gujarat, there has been a very big discontent among people. However, this discontent could not been transfered into a vote against BJP. That was not properly presented to people. There was a sharpening of communal polarisation. Everybody else other than BJP was portrayed as pro-Muslim, anti-Hindu force. That is a danger for future. That sharp communal polarisation did not permit the sharp discontent among people to transfer as a vote against BJP.

It is clear that whatever be the discontent among people, merely exposing and criticising policies that created this discontent is not sufficient. To gain the confidence of people, you require to project a policy alternative. Absence of alternative and mere criticism would not transfer the vote. What the country needs is not a ‘neta’ (leader) but ‘neeti’ (policy).

What is your take on CPI(M)’s victory in Himachal?

In Himachal Pradesh, we managed to win one seat and that is significant. There was communal polarisation and anti-incumbecy in Himachal. We have won in Theog where we had led several struggles. We gained the confidence of people through our work.

What positive effect will Gujarat results will have on Opposition Unity?

I think the take away is that the Opposition has to get together with a policy alternative. It can’t be Modi vs Rahul. Indications (about a paradigm shift) are sufficient. But that will materialise only through a policy alternative.

Do you see it as a vote against economic policies being pursued?

The discontent among people is the reflection of Modi’s economic policies. But the fact that the discontent did not transform into a vote against him is the reflection of absence of an alternative economic policy.

During campaign, Congress was seen as adopting soft Hindutva line. How do you see this?

As electoral opportunism, they might have done so. Main thing is that the campaign was that Congress is a pro-Muslim party. Soft Hindutva line does not make any sense. It will not gel with the people. Only way to beat BJP is that give a policy alternative to people. You cannot beat communalism through this.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 19, 2017)


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