With the sweeping defeat of the CPM-led governments in West Bengal and Kerala, the Left political power in the country is under question. After the defeat, the party general secretary Prakash Karat is fending off a battery of questions. However, he is not disappointed, saying the defeat in these two states does not mean sounding a death knell of communism. Dainik Jagran has had in-depth talk with Prakash Karat regarding the party’s crushing defeat. Excerpt:

In West Bengal the Congress and Trinamool came close owing to you. Any repent for withdrawing support from UPA on nuclear deal?

The Congress and Communist have always been arch rivals in West Bengal. There is not a single example that the Congress has extended any sort of help to CPM and Left Front. The reason is both the parties work for the interests of different group of people. The poll result has no business with N-deal and withdrawing support from the UPA. It is pertinent to mention that we fought against the Congress and Trinamool in Lok Sabha elections in 2004.

Is there any chance of re-aligning with the Congress in Centre or states in future?

Our party cannot tie political knot with the Congress and BJP nor can extend any sort of help to them.  The condition of 2004 was an exception when we extended support to the UPA from outside in order to edge out communal forces.
In the recent elections, minorities shy away from both the Congress and the Left. Is the communal force building?
It is true that the Trinamool bagged votes of minorities but it is not right that the Left and Congress did not get votes of minorities. As far as Left Front is concerned, the Muslim votes are less in comparison with the previous one, but it does not mean the communal force is spiraling up.  

Do you see any future of the third front at national level?

Yes, there is a need of third front in the country but it will take time to get into a shape. To my experience, if agenda and policy based non-Congress and non-BJP alternative comes up, it will serve the purpose. Our party will keep working for such alternative. I don’t believe that it will happen soon.  

Still you are talking about giving national alternative while your party base has shrunk to a small state…

Neither we are working for installing government in states nor will collapse of the government jeopardize our existence. We did not form government in any state from 1970 to 1977, but we got ahead by dint of public movement and political struggle. The defeat in West Bengal is quite a big jolt for us, because it was our strong bastion. We do need to take lesson from this trounce and strive to refurbish, but we have not met our political doomsday. Still, we have a comprehensive public support. As many as 2 crore people voted for us in West Bengal. Our front has got more than 45 percent votes in Kerala but failed to reach the magic number by a whisker margin of mere three seats.   

How much do you consider accountable for this defeat?

We work and take decision collectively. The party leadership must be responsible for the defeat in West Bengal, but we first assess our political and organizational bloopers and try to correct them.

Is this a defeat of the party’s principles as well?

The party works on principles of communism that advocates for a society without any exploitation. The poll results do not mean that the principles of the party were rejected. There are several factors which affect poll results. 

The gulf between state units and polit bureau has widened for the last some time?

It is baseless. The leaders of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura are members of polit bureau. From top to bottom our organization works together in election. 

What role will you play in the next Lok Sabha elections?

Giving final shape to the strategy for Lok Sabha elections will be much earlier right now as it is far off, but it is decided to toe the party lines. It means opposing both the Congress and BJP. This apart, the principles of the Left Front will be projected as a third option.

In both states, the other parties of the front hold the CPM accountable for defeat…

This is not correct. All parties are doing their assessment, but we take lion’s share of the defeat owing to being a part of the coalition.   

Despite clean image, Kerala’s Chief Minister was denied ticket…, non-cooperation of the state unit…

It is not correct to say that he was denied a ticket. His name was included in the list issued by the state unit. Before that, rumor mills were doing the round. The cause for defeat was some caste and communal based organization that influenced voters.

Under the stewardship of the Left, West Bengal lagged behind on academic front as well as it failed to evolve a model on economic, industrial and social front.

There could be different opinion in this regard. We could not see academic and cultural activities with bourgeois angle. There has been earnest effort as far as literacy and education are concerned. The state is doing well in the field of art and literature. But the rampant commercialization and neo-liberalized views are affecting across the nation.