In the four years and two months that the Left parties have supported the United Progressive Alliance from outside, the Revolutionary Socialist Party has been the smallest but most vocal Left party.
With the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Communist Party of India threatening to withdraw support to the government from time to time, it was the RSP that first set the ball rolling last month when one of the faces of the party, Abani Roy, withdrew from the almost-defunct Left-UPA coordination committee.
The RSP had at that time also urged the other Left parties to withdraw support and cut their losses.
While Roy quit the coordination committee, the other face of the party, Prof T J Chandrachoodan, continued to be part of the UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal. At that time, Roy had explained Chandrachoodan's continuance in the committee thus: "We have managed to keep the government from signing any deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency. By our continuous resistance the deal has been avoided. That is why this committee has special significance when it comes to policy and we continue to be there."
When the nuclear deal committee met on Wednesday, it said that it was Chandrachoodan again who took the lead in harpooning the government. He is supposed to have irked the chair of the committee Pranab Mukherjee by letting it be known that the Left won't take the UPA's dilly dallying on the deal any more.
The day after, in a conversation with Special Correspondent Krishnakumar, Chandrachodan criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his "blinkered vision that can see only the nuclear deal", and explained his party's stand and the future course of action with regard to the deal.
As things stand, the committee on the nuclear deal has decided to just once more. What is your stand at the end of Wednesday's meeting?
Our intentions are clear and we won't back off. We want to block the deal in whatever way we can. The committee has decided to meet again. Even if we manage to delay the deal by a month, we see it as a gain. The basic idea is to ensure that the deal does not go through.
If you are so against this government, why not withdraw support to the government?
Withdrawing our support is not a good thing for the government. But if things come to a pass, we will definitely withdraw our support.
The differences you are citing now have always existed. Then why did you not withdraw support till now, when the government is on its last lap?
This government has time and again proved that they are not worthy of our support. That is why we are talking about withdrawing support at this stage. We have supported it for the past four years. But the government has not proved that it is worthy of our support. So we will have no other option but withdraw support.
Couldn't you instead see this government through the rest of its term and then go and explain your stand to the people? Won't the people then appreciate your honesty?
Such things we need not explain to the people. It is for the people that we have been fighting for so long. Recent developments like price rise and the economic policies of the government are the kind of issues that this government should be concentrating on. Why the nuclear deal? If the government had paid at least one-tenth of the attention and time that it spent on ensuring that the deal is successful on solving these issues, it would have solved half the problems.
The prime minister and the government are acting like a horse wearing blinkers. The prime minister is interested in seeing only one thing and that is the nuclear deal.
Again, if the differences are so great, why not walk out?
We have our own terms. We have our own timing and will withdraw support when we see fit. We chose to support this government from the outside and we will choose when we will walk out.
If and when you walk out, what will happen to your claim of keeping the communal BJP out of power?
We supported this government for two main reasons: to implement the Common Minimum Programme, and to keep the BJP out of power. On the first point, the government has belied our expectations. On the second point, it has been us who have been vehemently and sincerely opposing the BJP for the past four years and two months. It is a very long time. The UPA is not very enthusiastic about it. But still we have kept the BJP out.
As the head of the UIPA, the Congress must realise that it also has a role in keeping the BJP out of power. We have been doing it till now. Now you try and keep them out of power for the remaining 10 months. Don't you have the duty?
Wherever we are strong be it Kerala or West Bengal the BJP can't do anything. They can fight but can't win anything. They are no rivals for us. It is the Congress that must deal with them. We have done it for so long for us and the people. Now let the Congress do it.
Back to the nuclear deal, what will you do if the government says let the Left leave us, we will go ahead with the deal? Won't the damage be done by then?
You don't need to worry about it. We will do what needs to be done when the time comes. If such a thing happens we will see
It is also said that you were the most vociferous in Wednesday's meeting and that Pranab Mukherjee was irked by some of the things you said.
Without going into the details of what was discussed in the meeting, I can tell you what I told was just a simile to make it clear that the government can't hoodwink the Left at every single stage. The government said it will go to the IAEA, we allowed it so that the prime minister's credibility is not tarnished in the international stage. But they can't keep proceeding at every stage till it reaches a point when the deal will be on autopilot. They can't hoodwink the Left at every stage.