Secular, Democratic Alternative is Possible Left Campaign in Tamilnadu
S P Rajendran
CAMPAIGNING in the state of Tamilnadu which is to go to polls on April 24, the sixth phase of the general elections, Manik Sarkar, member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau and the chief minister of Tripura, addressed three huge meetings on two days --- April 14 and 15. Addressing a public meeting at Thanjavur in East Tamilnadu for S Tamil Selvi, candidate of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Manik Sarkar said Left parties would play a decisive role in the formation of the next government at the centre after the Lok Sabha elections. His opinion was that the role of the Left would be akin to the one it played vis-à-vis the V P Singh and Deve Gowda governments. He said both the Congress and the BJP, put together, might not get more than 50 percent of the total votes polled while other parties would get more than 50 percent. Sarkar’s estimate was based on the figures for 2009 Lok Sabha elections when the Congress got 27 percent and BJP 20 percent of the votes, i.e. they got 47 percent put together, while other parties including the Left got 53 percent of votes. Stating that an alternative to the Congress and the BJP is possible in the country, Sarkar urged the secular and democratic forces in the country to join with the Left to provide that alternative. “Both the BJP and the Congress are like obverse and reverse of a coin. There is no difference,” he said. While price rises, farmers’ suicides, killing of the public sector, unemployment and corruption are the only achievements of the Congress, for which the people of the country are going to reject it, the BJP is a communal outfit. Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, cannot escape responsibility for the killing of 2,200 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Communal forces such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal are the ones dictating terms to the BJP now. If these forces are going to decide the next government, where the minorities such as Muslims, Sikhs, and Buddhists in the country would go, Manik Sarkar asked. While some media surveys said that the Congress is in a pitiable condition and might not cross the figure of 100, they also predicted that the BJP would not get the necessary number to form the government, he asserted. While addressing meetings at Kandharva Kottai and Tiruchi City in Tiruchi constituency, where CPI(M) candidate is S Sridhar, Manik Sarkar warned that the country’s unity and sovereignty would be in danger if the BJP were to come to power after the general elections. In Tamilnadu, while DMK has said it would support the Congress in the post-poll scenario, AIADMK started attacking BJP only from April 13, Sarkar observed. However, the AIADMK has not criticised either BJP's communal agenda or Modi’s crimes. In this backdrop, he told why the CPI and CPI(M) were together contesting Lok Sabha elections in Tamilnadu and urged the people of the state to support the Left combine in these 18 seats. Emphasising that only a secular, democratic alternative to the Congress and the BJP could address the issues that affect the common man like price rise, unemployment and communalism, Sarkar said the Left parties in the country have to be strengthened for such a political alternative to emerge. CPI leader Annie Raja and CPI(M) Central Committee member T K Rangarajan also spoke at Thanjavur. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member K Varadharajan and JD(S) general secretary Neela Lohitha Dasan Nadar of also addressed meetings in the state. MODI SHOULD BE ISOLATED: KARAT The country needed an alternative formation that would frame policies beneficial to the farmers, workers and toiling sections. The Left parties are interested not only in throwing the Congress out of power and preventing the BJP from coming to power, but in a change in policies that would not harm the people, said Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) at Dindigul on April 13 evening. Addressing a meeting at Begumpur in Dindigul city (South Tamilnadu) for CPI(M) candidate, N Pandi, Karat said people had decided to punish the Congress for its wrong policies that resulted in thousands of farmers committing suicide. Its policies favoured big corporates while pushing up unemployment and affecting the hopes of crores of young people. “People are going to punish the Congress which presided over the most corrupt government in the annals of Indian history. Never before did the country witness such corrupt practices. Natural resources were allowed to be plundered by the UPA government,” he said. Karat said Narendra Modi was the most ardent practitioner of Hindutva and he used Gujarat as a laboratory for Hindutva by making the Christians and Muslims second class citizens. Moreover, his ‘Gujarat model’ meant a bonanza for capitalists. So the BJP and Modi should be isolated and kept out of power, he added. In Tamilnadu, the DMK had been with the UPA and supporting its anti-people policies. Karunanidhi said he would go along with the Congress if it was willing to admit its errors. While the DMK would face the wrath of the people, "Jayalalithaa too did not criticise the BJP but only the Congress. Such opportunist parties should not get people’s support,” Karat said. Earlier, on April 12, Karat addressed a meeting in support of U Vasuki, CPI(M) candidate in North Chennai. Expressing happiness over the fact that the communist parties were for the first time fighting the elections independently in Tamilnadu, he expressed confidence that the fight for alternate policies would increase the Left strength in Lok Sabha. The anti-people pro-corporate policies of the Congress would lead to its worst ever electoral defeat in the country, the CPI(M) general secretary predicted. He accused the Congress of cutting subsidies for the poor while granting huge tax concessions to the corporate houses. But, he said, the BJP is no different as far as economic policies are concerned. Apart from the 2002 communal pogrom, the other aspect of the Gujarat model was to give big corporates free land, electricity and tax concessions. The Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, enjoyed the unanimous support of big corporates, and the BJP’s record in implementing the neo-liberal policies was even worse, he said. GUJARAT MODEL A HOT AIR BALLOON CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat received warm welcome at various centres in Tiruchi city when she came there to address campaign meetings at Thiruverumbur and Alwarthoppu in Tiruchi constituency for the CPI(M) candidate, S Sridhar, on April 14. Next day, she addressed a massive rally at Nagapattinam, a Left stronghold. Here senior CPI leader G Palanisamy is contesting. Addressing the huge gathering, Brinda Karat said that the BJP’s ‘Gujarat model’ campaign is a ‘hot air balloon’ that lacked substance and would fizzle out soon. Seeking votes for the Left candidates in the state, Brinda Karat said this was a fight for ‘fundamental change’ in the politics of the country. "Hindutva policies will be disastrous for the country, and Modi represented the most rabid face of these policies,” she said, adding that “a peasant, a worker or a woman may be a Hindu or a Muslim, but those who oppress them are all the same.” She did not spare the two Dravidian parties either. The AIADMK government has given only 45 days of work to the rural poor while the Left parties were fighting to have MGNREGA extended beyond panchayat limits, she said. She claimed with pride that the state that implemented the MGNREGA best was the Left-ruled Tripura that provided 98 days of work. Those calling themselves inheritors of the Dravidian movement and the social justice platform, like the DMK and the AIADMK have been silent on communalism, Brinda said, asking why they are silent about the defence of minority rights or on the RSS. Not sparing the former union minister and expelled DMK leader M K Alagiri, she said the latter raised both his hands to support the UPA when fertiliser subsidy cuts were made, affecting the Cauvery delta farmers. “The DMK stood by the UPA when the petrol price was raised 28 times and diesel price 18 times,” she added. Calling for a democratic, secular change, Brinda Karat hoped that the people would create the winds of change that would blow away both the DMK and the AIADMK in the state. There was a massive meeting at Coimbatore also, on April 14, when more than ten thousand people gathered to greet the CPI(M) candidate P R Natarajan, a sitting MP. While the party’s general secretary was slated to address this meeting, he was not able to attend it due to illness and addressed the masses on phone. CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan, CPI national secretary D Raja JD(S) leader Neela Lohitha Dasan Nadar also addressed this meeting. Here, Ramakrishnan described the AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa criticising the BJP over the Cauvery issue as nothing but tokenism. Ms Jayalalithaa had all along not criticised the BJP because her party’s ideology and that of the BJP hardly differed. She had conveniently glossed over the fact that the BJP was keen on building the Ram temple, as was mentioned in its manifesto. Nor did she criticise the BJP or Modi on any other issue, Ramakrishnan said. Taking on the two main Dravidian parties, the AIADMK and the DMK, Ramakrishnan said though the two had alternated in power for the past several years in the state, each was blaming the other on the power cut situation. D Raja said the Congress, which supported the corporates in their loot of the nation’s wealth, was to be blamed for the country’s sad plight. An alternative to the Congress was not the BJP as the two parties basically shared the same economic ideology. Earlier on the day, a massive meeting was held at Tiruppur too, in support of the CPI candidate K Subbaroyan. Here, G Ramakrishnan said, “Some of them are telling that Modi will favour small scale industries and help lift up the hosiery export industry in Tirupur. They are hiding the truth. Just as Tirupur was suffering an economic crisis, Surat, the diamond city of Gujarat, was also hit by the global economic recession. But how Modi reacted? Did he rescue the industry in any way? No, he did nothing and 45 per cent of the eight million workers lost their jobs.” The CPI(M) leader said only the Left parties stood by the Tiruppur workers and also with the industries that are suffering.