Mohammed Salim: Don’t write us off

Tags: News
Mohammed Salim, CPI-M central committee member, two-time Lok Sabha and one-time Rajya Sabha member, is one of less than a dozen Left MPs in the current Lok Sabha. West Bengal, one of the Left’s former citadels, could send only two MPs to the current Lok Sabha. Analysing the Left’s electoral debacle, Salim told Ritwik Mukherjee of FC that the Left movement in India “is here to stay and will bounce back,” sooner than later. Excerpts.

The Left parties suffered a major setback in the recently concluded parliamentary polls. What were the major factors and what could be the road forward?

There is no doubt that the Lok Sabha polls outcome has been a disaster for the Left parties. There are several reasons for that. But the main reason is the decline in support base in different parts of the state and the country. We will have to understand and analyse the various factors with clinical precision.

To regain the ground, we will have to go back to our roots. Electoral debacle is not permanent. I am an optimist and believe that the Left parties will stage a comeback.

Can the Left parties make themselves relevant again and stage a comeback?

The Left movement will always be there in India. If for nothing else, than simply because there is so much of discontent among the people.

Whatever may be the hype over the new government, the basic needs and aspirations of the people cannot be fulfilled without a complete economic re-structuring. No one other than the Left parties understands better the people’s needs, the ideal target group for the economic benefits. The objective and subjective conditions remain the same.

If the Left can rejuvenate and reposition itself, people, particularly the working class, will look up to it for protecting their interests.

How soon can the left parties bounce back?

It would be difficult to give a timeframe for revival. We will have to chart our roadmap for revival and build up the mass movement all over again. How soon we can do it remains to be seen.

What would you suggest to let the Left stay relevant in the Indian context?

We need to do many things in the changed circumstances. We will have to keep in mind the complexities and role of religion, caste, sub-caste, besides the new class divisions. Also class and caste are often juxtaposed in the current context. The most important thing would be to resurrect the party’s relations with the marginalised sections. It’s a huge, gigantic task with so many complexities.

The Left has always played the role of a watchdog in the context of Indian economy. Would decline of the Left increase the threats to Indian economy?

Certainly yes. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that the Indian economy will always need the Left’s concrete and regular interventions to protect its sovereignty and to ensure that the basic economic infrastructure is maintained.

It was a great failure on our part to combat gross misrepresentation of facts. We were sincere in our attempts to protect the economy, protect the people, but unfortunately we could not take this to the people.

If morning shows the day, then one of the first few moves of the new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to allow 100 per cent foreign direct investment in many sectors indicate that the swadeshi mask of BJP will soon be off. That will allow the Left parties to again take up the causes of common people and working class.

Do the Left parties need to review some of their reservations against the economic policies?

Let me make it clear that we don’t believe in any dogma. Our ideology does not allow that. We believe in constant changes according to the changing circumstances.

While the basic tools may remain the same, we will have to constantly study and analyse the situation and complexities to take an appropriate position, which is for greater good of the most vulnerable sections of society.


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