Yechury proposes secular alliance in 2019 polls, urges Oppn to channelise anti-BJP discontent

New Delhi: The people's discontent against the NDA government's policies would have to be channelised to evolve a national coalition to take on the BJP in the 2019 general elections, CPM chief Sitaram Yechury has said.

"We will decide on the basis of policies and programmes... because mere coming together does not mean (Opposition) unity, it's not about arithmetic only. And I think there should be an alternate government, a secular government (in 2019).

"We are not saying that we will join hands with anybody. All that I want to raise is that we will work for forming an alternate government against the government of the communal forces," Yechury said.

The CPM general secretary was replying to a spate of questions on how he saw the emerging national political scenario leading up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, during an interaction with PTI journalists in New Delhi.

Yechury, who recently had a meeting with Bihar chief minister and JD(U) President Nitish Kumar, said though there was a talk on the recent 'Maha Gathbandhan' (Grand Alliance) experiment in Bihar which kept the BJP out of power, "don't look for a pre-designed answers".

"So, we have told him (Nitish) that the answer is also, in the past we have seen, the 1996 situation. That is also an answer. Our history will tell you," he said while stressing that the Left parties, on their own, would have to play a decisive role in this.

CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, PTI

CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, PTI

After the 1996 elections, Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, DMK, TDP, AGP, All India Indira Congress (Tiwari), four Left parties, Tamil Maanila Congress, National Conference and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party had established the 13-party United Front, which had formed the government.

"There is already a lot of disgruntlement with the Modi government's policies, including demonetisation. We have to see how this disenchantment is channelised to ensure that an alternative secular combination emerges," the CPM leader said.

He pointed out that the BJP was in power now with "only 31 percent votes. Adding the votes polled by its allies, the tally only goes up to little over 37 percent. That means, 62-63 percent of the people have voted against them."

Asked about forging ties with the Congress or the Trinamool Congress to keep the BJP out, Yechury said there were no "pre-designed" answers available in electoral politics and parties have to respond on the basis of what results the people throw up in the polls.

It also depends on the policies and programmes of the parties and the situation prevailing at a particular time, he said.

"Let us see what sort of a situation comes up... We will take the call depending upon what sort of situation comes up. But lot of water will flow through the Ganga till 2019," he said.

Hitting out at the Modi government for its 'anti-people' policies and the alleged practice to bypass Parliament, the CPM leader questioned the Prime Minister's commitment towards parliamentary democracy, accusing him of "manipulating" the system to avoid Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA is in minority.

To drive home his point, he charged the government with bringing "every other bill as a money bill" so that it does not require approval of the Upper House, a practice, the Left leader felt is "distortion" of parliamentary methods.

"We, the people of India, (the opening words of Constitution)...means what? (That) the government is accountable to Parliament. The Parliament is accountable to the people. That is the linkage. If you break that at the level of Parliament, you break the link," he said.

Yechury said Modi was "not being accountable to and manipulating" parliamentary democracy. "One day, the prime minister came to Parliament and we had a good debate on demonetisation in Rajya Sabha. After that he vanished.

"He used to come for the customary Question Hour in Rajya Sabha on Thursdays. Even that he has stopped now," he said, alleging, "not only that he is not being accountable, he is manipulating the parliamentary system."

Castigating the government over issues concerning Dalits and scheduled castes and tribes, Yechury flagged the issue of abolition of the Planning Commission and the Five Year Plans which meant that the sub-plans for SCs and STs have "virtually ceased to exist".

As a result, he said, huge amounts that were to be sanctioned for the SCs and STs are not sanctioned now.

"The current union budget allocates a meagre 2.44 percent of the total budgetary outlay for the welfare of SCs and a minuscule 1.48 percent for the welfare of STs," he said, adding that earlier, the sub-plans for SCs and STs were to be allocated in terms equivalent to their percentage in the total population.

"What is it that you have allocated in the total budget outlay (for Dalits and STs)? This is far, far short of what should have been spent on their welfare under the sub-plans.

Now, this is going to have far-reaching effect, which is simmering now. This is going to be one big issue to take on which the Dalits and Left forces joining hands will become stronger," the CPM leader said.

He also accused the prime minister of making a "straightforward" appeal aimed at "communal polarisation" of voters during the ongoing Uttar Pradesh assembly poll campaign.

Yechury alleged that Modi was leading BJP's "fork-tongued" campaign for the UP polls, in which, while the prime minister was talking about farmers' debt waivers, other BJP leaders at the same time harp on Ram temple issue.

"You now have these fork-tongued speeches... there is this one angle of economy and debt waiver and, on the other, straightforward appeal for communal polarisation. The BJP has perfected the tactic," he alleged.

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Updated Date: Feb 26, 2017 13:19:43 IST

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