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Introduction of electoral bonds regressive, says Sitaram Yechury

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Hitting out at the BJP-led government for its “regressive policies”, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday said what the country needed was policies and not leaders. He said alternative policies would be the basis of Opposition unity and hope for other secular parties.

Talking to the media at a “Meet the Press” under the aegis of Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC) here, Yechury termed the idea of electoral bonds “regressive” and made a strong pitch for state funding of political parties and a ban on the flow of corporate funds directly. He said the bonds “remove limits of corporate funding leading to the establishment of shell companies. Nobody knows who redeems the bonds and it is very opaque and anti-democratic.”

“Contesting elections is now akin to a business enterprise, possible only for the wealthy. This needs stringent reform. At the outset, a good move will be to ban availability of corporate funds to political parties,” he said.

He wanted to know why the reports of the two committees ~ Dinesh Goswami and Indrajit Gupta ~ which favoured state funding were not implemented. There is a need for bringing a new legislation in regard to election funding, he said, adding that corporates should donate to the Election Commission.

Yechury described the prevailing situation in the country as a “critical time of our political history”. He said he unequivocally opposed any curbs of freedom of the press and felt the present curbs are worse than during the time of Mrs Indira Gandhi. It was “an undeclared form of emergency”, he added.

Yechury spoke on various issues ranging from the upcoming Assembly elections in Tripura to Opposition unity and foreign policy. He painted a gloomy picture of the government’s handling of various issues while being strongly critical of the “growing intolerance”. He slammed the government for not allowing Jignesh Mevani to hold a protest meet in the Capital.

The CPM leader said, “Gaurakshaks are going berserk all over the country. We demanded a ban on gaurakshaks and moral policing. Why are private armies of gaurakshaks being allowed and not one word of condemnation by the government? This is not acceptable.”

On the coming assembly elections in Tripura, Yechury said, “Tripura would be BJP’s Waterloo. For electoral benefit, BJP would let loose mayhem but we are prepared for it. The BJP’s fulcrum would be to unite all anti-left forces and a major battle is to be fought in Tripura and the outcome of the Assembly elections would have wider implications for the North East.”

On Aadhaar, he said, “we have been opposing Aadhaar as it is a violation of fundamental rights of the citizens under the Constitution.”

On foreign policy, Yechury said, “I am very worried as it has shifted in a big way. It was independent but has now shifted and become part of US global interest. The countries which we said were twin brothers like Nepal have now moved away. We cannot keep good relations with our neighbours. The Prime Minister visits Israel instead of Palestine and at the UN it votes with Palestine. It is much more than flip-flop and it is a direct shift towards a pro-US foreign policy detrimental to India’s interests.”

On the generational change in politics, Yechury said, “There is a generational shift and demographically the younger leadership cannot be left out and this generational shift is positive. Such a shift also shows youth taking up issues very relevant today.”