"We are not in the game of politics just to win a few seats or to win a few elections... We keep preaching our message, if people don't listen, that doesn't mean that we won't keep trying," says Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.
In the concluding segment of a candid and exclusive interview to Managing Editor (National Affairs) Sheela Bhatt, he takes on allegations of the CPI-M being an obstructionist party, how it plans to deal with terrorism and how it will keep the Bharatiya Janata Party out of power.
Part I of the interview: 'Reforms are required, but not the type initiated by the Congress and BJP'
Don't you think your party's image amongst the youth is that of an obstructionist party... no nuclear deal, no SEZs, no this, no that...
But our party says yes to more public investment in agriculture. Our party says yes to land reforms. Our party says yes to more efficient public distribution system. Our party says yes to industries. Our party says yes to more productive sector of industries, not just speculative flow of capital.
They see what they want to see in us. We have alternative policy. We may be number one in the world in producing billionaires, but how does that type of growth help the country or the people?
You talk of young people going to the malls, but you also have a country where 54 per cent children below 5 are malnourished. Why are they malnourished? Why is malnutrition so prevalent in this country? Why has per capita consumption of food grains actually fallen after liberalisation?
There are some questions we have posed. And we will not give up our stance just because the corporate media and the dominant ruling classes claim that these ideas are out of sync or anachronistic.
One values your views, but most analysts think that if compared to 2004 the Left's support base is shrinking. In 2008, you will not find it has expanded.
Anybody who knows our party acknowledges that we are not in the game of politics just to win a few seats or to win a few elections. We don't have basic goals in electoral politics. We don't play the games parties play in elections. We don't use big cars, money all that. Except in three or four states where we have a genuine base amongst people, in all other states we keep preaching our message, if they don't listen that doesn't mean that we won't keep trying.
We are not concerned about the ups and downs of some Parliament or assembly election. Yes, we may go up or go down. After all, in India from 1952, Communists never had more than 40 to 50 seats in Parliament.
But you are the general secretary and the CPI-M base seems to be shrinking...
Why are you linking it with me? It has nothing to do with me. In West Bengal we didn't get a three fourths majority because I am the general secretary. We have a party which is working with the right approach. We got the highest numbers of seats in Kerala, it has nothing to do with my being general secretary.
You said you are not into electoral politics...
No...no...that is not the sole end.
Image: Prakash Karat addresses supporters at a demonstration against the India-US nuclear deal in New Delhi, September 18, 2007. Photograph: Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images
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