Kolkata: CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has urged Rahul Gandhi to explain whether he is keen on fighting the BJP or the Left as he feels that the Congress chief's decision to contest from Left stronghold-Wayanad has sent out a different message.
Hinting that Gandhi's decision won't prevent the two parties from coming together after election, he spoke about 2004 when the CPI(M)-led Left Front had extended outside support to the Congress-led UPA. He said out of the 61 Left MPs, 57 had won by defeating the Congress.
"In all the 20 seats of Kerala, the contest is between the Congress-led UDF and Left-led LDF, whether its Rahul Gandhi or XYZ candidate. We are saying today that defeating the BJP is necessary to save India today," Yechury told PTI in an interview.
"Now what does Rahul Gandhi want to do is up to him. What is the message he is giving by contesting against the Left in Kerala unlike his mother or grandmother who had contested against the BJP from Karnataka. He should tell the country whether he is keen on fighting BJP or the Left. He should clarify this," he said.
Indira Gandhi had contested from Chikmagalur in October 1978 and Sonia Gandhi from Bellary in 1999 in Karnataka.
Fighting against the BJP is one thing, fighting against the Left sends out a different message, he said.
Yechury said if Gandhi was keen on sending a message of united India by contesting from a southern state he could have contested from Tamil Nadu or Karnataka.
He was commenting on Gandhi's recent speech where he had said that the reason behind contesting from Kerala was to give a message that "India is not just one idea but millions of different viewpoints".
Asked whether Gandhi contesting from Kerala would act as a roadblock for the CPI(M) in supporting the Congress in a post-poll scenario, Yechury said, "Roadblock for what? If Rahul Gandhi is not there then there will be some other Congress candidate." "We are fighting Congress politically in Kerala and we will fight it," he said, noting that in 2004 when Left supported UPA-1, out of the 61 seats, the Left had won 57 by defeating the Congress.
Yechury exuded confidence that a secular democratic government would come to power post elections and said the these polls will be the most crucial since Independence as the outcome will determine whether the country will remain a secular, democratic republic, as enshrined in the Constitution.
"The BJP, which is an arm of the RSS, has a game plan to convert India into Hindu Rashtra. They have undermined every democratic institutions of the country. We will never allow this to happen and that is why it is crucial to defeat this government," he said.
Asked whether the CPI(M) will be a part of the proposed secular government or will it limit its role up to providing outside support, Yechury said it will decided post polls.
"According to our party programme, the question of participating or not participating in government will be decided on the basis of the concrete situation that emerges at such a time, by our central committee. This decision will be taken at that time," he said.
Criticising the BJP for its effort to polarise the elections on the basis of religion and nationalism, Yechury referred to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent comment that he would like the BJP to win and said the statement had only made it clear "who is pro-Indian and pro-Pakistani".
"The BJP has been branding opposition and those who have questioned them as Pakistani. But after Imran Khan's statement we know who Pakistan actually wants as PM. Pakistan wants Modi to win and India wants Modi to lose," he said.
In an interview to foreign journalists, Khan said he believed there was a better chance of peace talks with India and settling the Kashmir issue if the BJP wins the general elections.
The 66-year-old communist leader slammed BJP president Amit Shah for terming infiltrators "termites" and said it is one of the "most obnoxious and offensive comments" and wondered why the Election commission is yet to take cognisance of it.
He said it was clearly a case of hate speech and violation of the Model Code of Conduct. "I really cannot understand why the EC is yet to take notice of it," Yechury said.
On the issue of failure of the seat-sharing deal with the Congress in West Bengal, Yechury said the grand old party should answer why it decided to go alone.
"The CPI(M) was sincere in its commitment to ensure maximum polarisation of anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes in Bengal. We unilaterally announced that there should be no mutual contest in six seats. But the Congress on the basis of its own wisdom announced candidates, so it is for them to answer," he said.
Yechury said that as far as the people of Bengal were concerned, the most sincere efforts for defeating the TMC and the BJP were being made by the CPI(M) and Left.
With the BJP emerging as the main contender of the ruling Trinamool Congress, the CPI(M) in Bengal is fighting a tough battle to retain its political ground.
In the 2014 parliamentary election, the Trinamool Congress won 34 seats in Bengal, the Congress four and the Left and the BJP two each.