Brinda Karat, the Communist Party of India-Marxist Rajya Sabha member and Politburo member, spoke exclusively to rediff.com Managing Editor (National Affairs) Sheela Bhatt on the verdict in West Bengal and Kerala, and the party's relations with the United Progressive Alliance in the light of the triumph.
On the CPI-M's victory in West Bengal, Kerala
"There is a difference between television studios and the real world. In the real world, people have voted for us and they find no contradiction in us or in our language at the Centre and in the states. In New Delhi, our language is the same as what we say in West Bengal and Kerala. We consider our victory in West Bengal and Kerala as the victory of the people of these two states. It is also the vindication of the party's policy on some of the major issues, which have been affecting the people of our country.
"In New Delhi, we are here to ensure that communal forces do not come back to power. That is the same position we have in Bengal and Kerala. Given the circumstances in New Delhi, we are here to defend the interests of the working class in the best way we can. The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government's Common Minimum Programme provides us with that opportunity. The UPA has our support as long as they implement the CMP."
"In West Bengal, we are far ahead of the UPA in implementing the CMP. Fortunately in our country, television studio debates have limited impact. People carried on and on with a campaign against us. But we were not at disadvantage because you must remember that we are amongst the people 365 days a year."
"In Kerala, the issue regarding leadership was a creation of the media. Our party members are dedicated to the party's policy in Kerala, not to leaders.
On the Election Commission
"We were very concerned at the completely biased manner in which the Election Commission targeted West Bengal. Large numbers of voters who had election identity cards were not allowed to vote. So we felt that a great injustice was done to the voters. The Commission went out of the way to target the West Bengal government. We did not expect that from an autonomous institution. I think it raises questions about the EC's working.
"I think the EC certainly overstepped its limits in West Bengal. The canard, which was spread by our opponents about scientific rigging and was accepted by the EC, has once and for all been buried by the people. I hope the country has heard that last clod of mud that has fallen on that grave!"
CPI-M on the Congress
"We have been quite concerned to see that the government is drifting away from the CMP. As far as independent foreign policy is concerned, as far as protection of farmers and public distribution system is concerned."
"With regard to this election and our victory, I wish the government would rethink on this drift. As far as we are concerned, we are now more confident that people are with us that adds strength to this debate.
"I must add that the CPI-M has never been the destabilising factor in Indian politics. We are here with the CMP and as long as they are implementing it, there is no question of instability. The government is responsible for stability. Stability is linked to the implementation of the CMP. The government should know that it is running the coalition with the programme. I can assure you the Left is not, has never been and will never be the destabilising factor."
"We are 61 parliamentarians in a House of 542. We are very clear what our strength is. Our victory ensures that now you cannot bulldoze any policy, which is not pro-people."
"Let me tell you that in West Bengal or elsewhere, we are not opposed to Foreign Direct Investment, industrialisation and such progress. What we are opposed to are 'sweetheart deals.'
"We are opposed to deals like Enron and POSCO. We are opposed to deals, which allow multinationals to loot the country without any guarantees and we are opposed to deals that bulldoze workers rights."
"(West Bengal Chief Minister) Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's trajectory of growth and invitation to FDI is linked to our party's policy framework. You will find that in West Bengal there are no 'sweetheart deals' as you find in other states. We are winning again and again in West Bengal because we are not barsati mendak(frogs) who come out during rain and disappear after that."
"All other bourgeoisie parties come to people at the election time but we are there 365 days to share their joy and sorrows, and we explain to them what we cannot do and what we are doing. We do not give false promises, which cannot be implemented.