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TMC wants Bengal Communist-mukt, India Congress-mukt: CPI(M)’s Mohammed Salim

In a free-wheeling interview, Salim spoke about the TMC as a product of the RSS agenda, about it being a foregone conclusion that Banerjee would get off the INDIA bloc train, and the Left’s 'resurgence' in Bengal

Prasun Chaudhuri Published 18.02.24, 07:20 AM
CPIM leader Md. Salim

CPIM leader Md. Salim Sanat Kr Sinha

The TMC boss Mamata Banerjee’s recent decision to distance herself from the Congress and the INDIA bloc in West Bengal has elicited different reactions. While the Congress appears to be still willing, the CPI(M) is in told-you-so mode. Among a slew of things, Banerjee was especially irked by the CPI(M)’s newfound proximity to the Congress borne out by top Marxist leaders’ active participation in the Bengal leg of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. At such a time, Prasun Chaudhuri caught up with Mohammed Salim, the CPI(M)’s West Bengal secretary and politburo member. Salim had just returned from Berhampore, the administrative headquarters of Murshidabad district, where he and some of his party colleagues had gone to meet and greet Rahul Gandhi before he journeyed on to Bihar. In a free-wheeling interview, Salim spoke about the TMC as a product of the RSS agenda, about it being a foregone conclusion that Banerjee would get off the INDIA bloc train, and the Left’s “resurgence” in Bengal.

Q Mamata Banerjee accused the CPI(M)/Left Front of breaking the INDIA alliance in Bengal. How does the Left Front expect to benefit from the TMC’s exit?


The INDIA bloc was created with the agenda of fighting the BJP. It was floated in an effort to gather several political parties to fight the BJP mode of politics... to protect the country’s constitutional structure, parliamentary democracy, secular policy and self-dependent economic policy (which) are being shattered... (to address) unemployment, inflation, farmers’ issues, livelihood questions... It was not an electoral alliance, as projected by the RSS-BJP combine.

Some parties had selfish motives from the very beginning. We knew that Mamata’s aim was to protect her nephew and all corrupt politicians of the TMC. She was somewhat compelled to join the INDIA bloc after she initially tried to break the unity of it by floating a third front with a few non-BJP and non-Congress parties.

The INDIA bloc train started with various political parties on board in Patna last June to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition against the “fascist BJP”. From the very beginning, we were suspicious about certain passengers in the train, such as Bihar’s CM Nitish Kumar and Mamata. Now you see what has happened.

Unfortunately, some parties at the national level thought that Mamata would fight the BJP because she is secular. But we knew from the very beginning that the TMC was formed out of an RSS agenda to oust Communist parties in Bengal and Congress at the national level. The TMC made an opportunistic alliance with the Congress in 2009 to oust the Left.

If you look back, the TMC was formed by breaking the Congress. Mamata has always been committed to that agenda — to make the state Communist-mukt and the country Congress-mukt.

Q But will the Left benefit from the TMC’s exit?

Surely. People have by now understood the TMC’s true colours. They are covertly driven by the RSS agenda.

Q Won’t the new electoral equations lead to a three-way split of votes? Won’t this benefit the BJP?

Not at all. There’s huge anti-incumbency against the TMC in Bengal. Recruitment scams, ration scam, loot of public money. People have realised there’s a tacit understanding or “setting” between the BJP and the TMC. They will campaign and use the administrative machinery accordingly; they are not going to fight against each other. It’s a fight between communalists and Communists.

Q Do you think Mamata was keen on joining the INDIA alliance earlier because she had apprehended a loss of minority votes? Now, after Ram Mandir, is she hopeful of getting back those votes?

Her advisors know the answers. She was driven by her own selfish agenda — to save her nephew and associates from central investigators.

Q What makes you think people will turn to the Left in 2024? What has changed?

History doesn’t repeat itself. In 2019 people were duped by the Balakot airstrike, they were also impressed by PM Modi’s 56-inch chest. In 2021, they cashed in on a fear psychosis created among voters by the CAA-NRC hoopla. Now with a revamped and resurgent Left full of young leaders and workers, people have got an alternative in the Left.

Q How do you counter allegations that many Left supporters secretly vote for the BJP believing the slogan Agey Ram, Porey Baam?

This was a campaign spread by the RSS and amplified by the TMC and media houses like the one you belong to. But the municipal and panchayat elections have borne out the falsity of this. Left supporters have never believed this.

Q The older generation of Left supporters don’t approve of the party’s alliance with archrival Congress.

In 2016 we fought together and the results were not bad despite the Centre- state administrative machinery working against us. We’ve been able to convince our supporters about the need for this. In our Insaaf Yatra, many disenchanted TMC supporters and Congress supporters also participated.

Q Do you regret the Left Front’s alliance with the ISF in the last Assembly elections?

No. All who are opposed to the TMC and the BJP — the fascists — are welcome to join hands. We haven’t discussed any alliance or electoral seat sharing arrangement yet. Even other Left parties are welcome, although some of them were deceived last time by the TMC’s posturing.

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