KC Venugopal interview: ‘Which other PB member of CPI(M) is criticising Rahul Gandhi?’

KC Venugopal said the INDIA bloc is considering two scenarios: pre-election and post-election. “We are fighting TMC in Bengal, AAP in Punjab, CPI(M) in Kerala, but after the polls we will be together,” he said.
KC Venugopal interview: ‘Which other PB member of CPI(M) is criticising Rahul Gandhi?’

Known to be Rahul Gandhi’s right-hand man, KC Venugopal is contesting the Lok Sabha elections for a third time, after having stayed away from the 2019 elections citing party responsibilities. This time too, he is juggling his responsibilities as the AICC General Secretary in-charge of organisation, helping Rahul Gandhi’s campaign in Wayanad, and campaigning for himself in Alappuzha. TNM caught up with him in the second week of April, while he was campaigning in Haripad in the constituency.

Excerpts from the interview:

You are here in Alappuzha after five years. What are the major electoral issues you are highlighting this time?

Generally, the electoral issues are the same across the state — unemployment, price rise, social welfare schemes are stagnated, people aren't getting pensions, and the continuation of development.

Some of the issues you mentioned are state government subjects, so this election is also a fight against the state government?

Yes, these are matters of concern. Generally people’s day-to-day issues are related to the state government.

Your major opponent in Alappuzha is the CPI(M)’s sitting MP AM Arif. This is the only constituency in Kerala in which a Left candidate won in the UDF wave of 2019. How confident are you this time?

Every election, you can gauge the results from seeing the reaction of the people of the constituency. My confidence level is increasing from seeing the people’s reactions.

In your assessment, what are the chances of the INDIA bloc coming to power?

The chances are bright. INDIA coalition can form the government. The situation in north India is also changing in our favour.

Even when we say that, there is another question — there are several differences of opinion that we are hearing within the INDIA alliance, particularly here in Kerala?

What was the 2004 scenario? On one side the BJP was projecting their slogan “India shining”, saying that they would form government, in the same way that Modi is doing now. On the other hand, we were fighting with each other, the CPI(M) and Congress were fighting in Kerala at that time too. 

We have already told the media this – in the INDI Alliance there are two scenarios: pre-election and post-election. We are fighting the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, but after the election we will be together.

This is also a crucial election in the sense that Hindutva has taken considerable root in the country and people are even saying that this might mark the death of democracy. 

There is concern among the people of India nowadays, that the way in which the Union government and the Prime Minister are projecting themself, this election might mark the end of democracy.

People are saying that this could even be the last election.

That is not a concern, it has been created by PM Modi only by putting Opposition leaders in jail or freezing the bank account of the principal opposition party. So basically, they are denying a level playing field in the elections using the central agencies. This is something any Prime Minister could do, but when we were in power, we did not do that.

Does that not call for a pre-election unity also?

There definitely is pre-election unity. When Kejriwal was arrested, didn’t the entire INDI Alliance come out in protest in the rally in Delhi. But I agree there are a little bit of differences in the states.

For instance, Rahul Gandhi’s candidacy in Wayanad is being criticised by Pinarayi Vijayan here.

Pinarayi Vijayan is totally different from the rest of the CPI(M). Which other politburo member of the CPI(M) is criticising Rahul Gandhi? In all other states where the CPI(M) has a presence, they are fighting this election alongside the Congress. 

This is a crucial election for the CPI(M) as a poor show might lead to them losing their national party status. Is it also crucial for the Congress?

This election is crucial for the country. There is a perception that it is going to be the end of democracy. I think recognition of an individual political party is a much lesser concern than the very future of the country. 

The question on many people’s minds now is that if the INDI Alliance doesn’t emerge victorious in this election, does the Congress stand a chance at all in future elections?

We are now discussing this election and we are very confident of victory. Why are you then asking this question?

Despite this being a crucial election, Rahul Gandhi is contesting only from Wayanad.

Rahul Gandhi is contesting from all 543 LS constituencies in this country. He is campaigning throughout the country and is the face of the INDIA alliance. He is fighting against the BJP and dictatorship. Don’t confine him to just the Wayanad MP. Of course he is repeating his candidature in Wayanad, that is not a new decision. He is sitting MP from Wayanad and is merely continuing there. 

Last time, he had also contested from Amethi.

You wait and see. Our candidates are yet to be announced in some places.

Opposition leaders are being hunted down by central agencies. The Congress party is being targeted by the Income-Tax department on your bank accounts. Yet there is a perception that the Congress did not fight it enough. Why didn’t the party take to the streets to protest the I-T action?

It is a big poll issue. All over India, our press persons have spoken about this. We are agitating across the country, it is a big issue that we are raising everywhere, including here also.

Your comment on the church screening The Kerala Story.

The people of Kerala will not believe these films and fantasy, the people will believe in reality. Therefore we are not bothered about the screening at all.

There seems to be a sentiment among Christians that is favourable towards the BJP, stemming from a sense of Islamophobia.

I don’t buy that argument at all. The people of Kerala will not buy these fantasy stories.

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