Taking a sigh of relief after facing its aggressive alliance partner Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s wrath on slashing government subsidies, the Congress was put in the dock by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) over the issue. The TMC termed the budget as boosting financial improvement and development. Terming the budget as anti-people, the CPI (M) has penned its strategy to target the UPA Government for hurting the interests of the poor and the common man-“more subsidy to the rich and less subsidy for the poor”.  

Given the strengthening ties with Samajwadi Party and amid signals of revival of the Third Front, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury spoke to Dainik Jagran.

Excerpts from the interview:

Sitting in the Opposition, you termed the General budget as well as the Rail Budget as the anti-people. Still, which one do you think is better?

(Laughing), it would be difficult to say which one is better as one thing is clear that it will bring more pressure on the poor and working people. The General Budget will have more impact on the common man. However, the excuse given by the Government is completely baseless but one must not be surprised why the government did not adopt reform measures? The Government did not start pro-poor schemes for the last 3-4 years.

But the government has provided a relief worth Rs 4,500 crore by extending the income tax ambit.

But it will not benefit the poor. Ask any economist that who would take advantage of this rebate?
Only resourceful people will get the advantage of this. Instead, the government will hike the prices which will directly affect the common man. This is absolutely unethical norms.

The economists are of the view that there is a dire need of reducing the burden of subsidies and the government tried to do the same in this budget.

Let me complete….We do not approve of the Government’s economics. According to it, the subsidy provided to the poor is a loss making effort and a hurdle in the economic growth. The subsidy to the elites is in the interest of the nation, says the government economics. We do not agree to this growth formula.

But is there no need of tough measures for improvement in today's financial condition?

Improvement is needed but one would have to find out the ways. No one would like to increase the country's fiscal deficit due to non-accountability. The Government policy is wrong. Look at the budget – there is 5.9 percent fiscal deficit means Rs 5,22,000 crore. According to the Finance Minister, a rebate of Rs 5,28,000 crore was provided in the previous budget (to elites). And now he is saying that the losses are soaring. The government expects the poor to bear the burden and hopes for our support. This is unacceptable to us. 

So the corporate world should pay more taxes to compensate the losses?

It's not needed. It would be sufficient if the tax is honestly collected as levied in the budget. We do not agree on providing rebates to the rich and increasing its burden on the poor in the name of sustainable growth.

The Finance Minister says that political compulsions stopped him to take reforms measures…

Ask him what he wanted to do which he could not. But the indirect taxation will be burden on the poor.

There are many bills related to reforms pending in the Parliament. Would you support the government in passing them in the House?

We will never support the pension and insurance bills in Parliament.

You are in the Opposition, but the UPA’s main ally TMC has been more aggressive. Don’t you think TMC chief Mamata has abolished the role of the Opposition?

Mamata cannot befool everyone by her dual policy. Her party has a stake in every decision of the Union Government. She gives green signal to anti-poor legislations in the Cabinet and befools the public by opposing the same in the Parliament. Her integrity is questionable. 

Given TMC’s attitude in and outside the Parliament, do you think there is a threat to the stability of government?

In parliamentary democracy, government stability is a game of numbers and the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party continue to support the UPA from outside. If any one of them withdraws its support, the Government will be in minority in the Parliament. 

The ties between the SP and the Left parties are strengthening day by day. Will the SP not stand by the Left on ideological issues?

We share similar ideological views with the SP. Akhilesh Yadav took over the rein of Uttar Pradesh. He needs a stable government to deliver good governance to the people. He may also have his independent ideology.

Several important bills including Pension and Insurance have to be introduced in the current session.  Would you not talk to the SP and BSP to increase the strength of the opposition?

Yes. We will talk to them and try to circumvent the government's efforts against the poor and hard working. And anyone connected to the public is aware of this reality.

There are reports that the Congress has been trying to revive the ties with the Left.

It will only be possible if the SP and the BSP withdraw their support from the Government. However, there is no such need at the moment.

Is the Third Front in waiting with flourishing relations between the SP and the Left?

Undoubtedly, there is polarization between the Left and the SP. Along with the Left, the regional parties have also become active. It will be interesting to see that which shape the polarization will take place after assembly elections in some states.