Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) politburo member, four-time Tripura chief minister and now the leader of opposition, Manik Sarkar, who was in Delhi to raise concerns over the “denial of democratic right” to opposition parties in Tripura, which was roiled in violent clashes between BJP and Left supporters recently. Failing to meet President Ram Nath Kovind, the former chief minister returned to Tripura on Wednesday vowing to “continue with the struggle”. He also indicated that his party is “not scared” of a possible rise of the Trinamool Congress in the state after the latter’s renewed attempts.
Sarkar’s visit to Delhi comes days after party’s general secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote to PM Narendra Modi to seek his intervention to contain violence against Left cadres in Tripura.
You were in Delhi and you wanted to meet the President regarding political violence in Tripura, what happened regarding that?
How can I tell in detail about all those things? We have already circulated everything yesterday (Tuesday). Why should I repeat it? Yesterday, everything was explained. Yes, President of India … it is our right to talk to him and it is his responsibility to listen to us. That is why our party’s general secretary requested him to allow us to meet him. Till this morning, I have no knowledge whether any information has come to our party’s central office. At least, I have no knowledge. As we have not got any information from the President’s office, I am returning back today.
And Prime Minister also. Our general secretary wrote a letter to him narrating all these things. The information which was disseminated yesterday (Tuesday), all these things were not there in the letter of the general secretary because after that letter all other information started coming. So, despite all these things Prime Minister has still not acknowledged.
This should not be the culture when particularly from the opposition they are trying to draw the attention of the higher-ups of the country and administration, they should listen. Otherwise, how the country will run?
You said you are going back to Tripura. What would be your next course of action from here on?
You see, we are already in the midst of a struggle. Restoration of democracy, peace — that is one thing. On the other hand, livelihood — provide work, earnings so that they can arrange their food and at the same time. What they (BJP) had promised in the last assembly elections, they should seriously try to implement. We are in the struggle. There is no new action. This struggle will continue.
How is the Left front preparing for the next elections, which will happen two years from now?
No, that is not the agenda of the Left front at this point. Agenda is restoration of democracy, peace, food, work, earnings… that is the most important thing. Health care… all these things are very, very important.
Is the Left front in Tripura, particularly the CPM, feeling threatened by the possible rise of the TMC? Do you feel that the same thing can happen in Tripura what happened in West Bengal?
I have already explained this yesterday. What is your question?
My question is that just as it happened in West Bengal, Trinamool rose and kept rising, for the third time it has formed the government and it led to the eclipse of the CPM in West Bengal… What about Tripura?
I would like to clear, not getting any seat in Parliament or assembly, it does not mean that that the particular party has vanished. That is the history of the communist movement in India. You go to West Bengal… we are fighting there despite all these things for the causes of the common people throughout the country. The farming community, they are on the streets. We are in the struggle. Working class, we are in the struggle. Wherever, whatever the struggle is, with the red flag, we are in the forefront. It does not depend on how many numbers are there in Parliament of this particular party or how many governments this particular party has been able to form. Yes… West Bengal, our electoral performance was not good, we have mentioned “devastating”. But, West Bengal, it is the advanced guard of democratic movement, Left movement in the country. That cannot be denied nor ignored. That should always be kept in mind.
Alright, Trinamool Congress… they have been going there (Tripura) right from the beginning after the formation of their party in West Bengal. Their top leaders contested elections also but they have failed to get any seat there. But in the last assembly election, most candidates of Trinamool came from the Congress and before elections, they (TMC) marched with the BJP. In this situation, they have started taking initiative. Nothing wrong in it. A political party, a democratic party, they have every right to go into any part of the country from their own organisation and if they want to take part in the election, it is up to them. So, we have nothing to do with them. We are there with the Left. We had been, we have been and we will be with the masses.
Nobody is saying that the Left has vanished. The Left as a force is very much there. But what happens when it comes to converting that support into votes. With the BJP and now Trinamool in Tripura, are you scared of losing that bastion also?
We are not at all scared. Why should we be scared? Every political party has the right to go for elections. Converting support into votes that people will decide. We are in the midst of the struggle. Struggle for whom? Common masses. So, they will decide when elections will come who they will vote for and who they will not vote for. You cannot convert forcibly. We have full respect, regard and confidence on the masses.