Sabarimala row to help Left: Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

 In spite of norms like two-time tenure, more representation for women and minorities, ability to win would be the criterion for candidate selection in CPM.

Published: 10th February 2019 02:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2019 02:44 AM   |  A+A-

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  In spite of norms like two-time tenure, more representation for women and minorities, ability to win would be the criterion for candidate selection in CPM. A 1996-model central government or a Karnataka model government could come up at the Centre, observes CPM secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. In an interview with ‘Express’, Kodiyeri says the party is not against NSS and that the CPM did have some initial concerns about BJP making political gains in the Sabarimala issue but not anymore.

Q:  LDF is all set to undertake a political yatra this week. How do you perceive the current political scenario?

A: The general political scenario is favourable to the Left. But the Congress and the BJP have been trying hard to sabotage it. However, the Left’s secular stance and its uncompromising fight against the RSS has attracted people from all religions. To take on RSS at the Centre, the Left needs to garner more support across the political spectrum. The masses actually want a government where the Left has a major say. 

Q: The primary challenges, advantages and disadvantages before the party. 

A: The Congress mistakenly believes that only they can take on BJP. In Manipur and Goa, Congress emerged the biggest party, but BJP formed the government. In Karnataka, Congress gave way to Janata Dal. There is a possibility that the same could happen in the coming general elections. It seems not a repeat of a 2004 scenario, but more like a 1996 scene. 

Hence the Congress campaign that people should vote for them to keep the BJP away no longer holds true, and the Left  can turn the tide in its favour in the state. 
There is a hidden nexus between the Congress and BJP in several places like Malayinkeezhu and Kottukal in Thiruvananthapuram, another in Wayanad.  We need to specifically deal with this, for which political and organisational preparations have already begun. 

Q: What will be the role of socio-political and community organisations like the NSS in the polls?

A: NSS and other community organisations have always maintained their own stances. In the past they had once tried to take on the Left politically, but failed. Stances taken by community organisations don’t necessarily wield a major influence during elections nowadays. In the last poll, 104 Hindu organisations including SNDP took a stance in favour of BJP, yet the NDA hardly made any political headway. 
It is always the common man who has the last word.

Q: Of late, the CPM state secretary has been relentless in his attack on the NSS.  

A: We are not here to frighten anyone away. All organisations whatever their religious affiliations should take a stance against communalism, especially those with strong roots in the renaissance of the state. We have never considered the NSS as our rival.

Q: What is your take on the Sabarimala ripple effect on the polls?

A: The Left has taken a women-friendly stance upholding gender equality. The younger generations would naturally not abide by the conservative views prevalent in a section of society.
Several intellectuals who are supposedly opposed to the CPM openly expressed their support to the stance taken by the CPM. We prefer not to play vote bank politics in such situations. We did the same in 1985 and 2004 too. Though there were huge campaigns against us then, it had no impact during elections. The CPM’s progressive stance has always attracted support from newer emerging sections of society.

Q: At any point in time however, did you ever feel that you should have modified your stance?

A: Never. We are of the view that women should be allowed to enter Sabarimala. The CPM is for gender equality. Those who oppose us are just voicing aloud  their conservative stance. In 1991, when the HC issued an order banning women entry into Sabarimala, the government implemented the same. The government is bound to implement court orders. 

Q: Do you think the BJP will reap any ‘Sabarimala’ benefits in the polls?

A: The fact that their agitations failed miserably clearly answers that. Earlier, there were a few  concerns that BJP could use this politically, but the masses have clearly understood the underhand politics being indulged in by the saffron party in the name of faith. 

Q: What’s the progress of seat division within the LDF? 

A: At each stage, there will be discussions within the front before taking a final call. Those who were not considered initially, were given seats last time. The approach is not ‘Seat for all’. The front will discuss and take a call on who should contest from where. Discussions are yet to begin.

Q: Will there be a criteria for candidates like consideration for women, youth and minorities?

A: With only 20 seats, ability to win is the primary criteria. We cannot hence take a mechanical decision based only on certain criteria. In certain seats, such criteria would apply. But in those seats which we are planning to win back, a compromise will have to be worked out. We are not for experiments. At the same time, gender consideration too will be in place.

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