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CPI-M politbureau member says there's no reason for Left to shed equi-distance between BJP and Congress

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By Our Representative
India’s main Left party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M), may have noted that in the new dispensation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi the neglect of India’s poor has intensified, as seen in the “targeted attack” on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), implemented by the previous Congress-led government. This is being "effected" by putting "a cut on the budgetary outlays", it says. However, the party does not think this is reason enough to drop its earlier stance of maintaining equi-distance between the Congress and Modi-led BJP, which snatched power by decimating the Congress in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In an interview with well-known social activist Teesta Setalvad, who edits the journal "Communalism Combat", the CPI-M’s only woman politbureau member Brinda Karat said, the new government has “caught its breath” and “has started an unrelenting attack on India’s poor”, adding, this is proved not just by the “targeted attack on the previous government’s rural employment scheme”. It is also seen in the recent move to remove “protections for the organized labour”, which will “ensure that all protections today available to some sections of the working people, that protect them from contractual employment, will disappear.”
“These steps”, according to Karat, are “targeted against the vast majority of the Indian people”, expecting this will create preconditions for ensuring “increasing relevance of the Left, never mind its current diminishing strength in the Lok Sabha”. However, she believes, all this is not enough to shed equidistance. Karat is wife of CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat.
Defending the stand of the Left in maintaining equidistant from the BJP and the Congress, Karat said, “The Congress brand of secularism needed to be exposed.” Finding fault with the Congress for “not pushing hard enough a Central law to prevent targeted communal violence to prevent another Gujarat”, she said, instead, the Congress succumbed to “rightwing BJP pressure in not implementing the recommendations of the Rangannath Mishra Commission report that would have socio-economically benefited 80 per cent of India’s minorities.”
Blaming Congress policies for “not preventing the arrests of innocent Muslims in the name of combating terror”, Karat said, “The road of the BJP to power is littered with the failures of the Congress.” Recognizing the difference between a government openly backed by the RSS and one run by the Congress, she, however said, “On the economic front, there was little to choose between the neo-liberal policies of the Congress and the BJP.”
Expressing concern over “shocking play of money in India’s electoral politics”, which was “most visible in the recently concluded Parliamentary polls leading to a situation where it was moneyed corporate houses who were now playing a deciding role on who and which party comes to power”. Karat stressed on the “urgent need for electoral reform to ensure a level playing field to those with limited access to money.”
Stressing on the need “for a shift to a system of proportional representation to ensure that regional and national players with as much as 20 per cent of votes are not left out in representation in assemblies and Parliament”, Karat said, recently there have been “overt instances of judicial bias within the courts, a bias that reflected in rulings against women, Dalits and even minorities. Often this has led to the left having to demonstrate and shame judgments and thereafter face contempt of court proceedings.”
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