With the Left reiterating its threat to withdraw support from the Congress led UPA government and with the Prime Minister not budging from his stand either, it seems as if a break in ties is inevitable. This will happen just months before the country witnesses the next phase of General Elections scheduled for 2009.
The CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat maintained his stance over the agreement despite months of negotiations by the Congress. After witnessing this entire political ‘drama’, one cannot help but ask a few basic questions. The interesting part is that these questions may or may not have substantial, let alone believable, answers.
Let us start with the Congress and its very own duo – Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Making a statement last August, the Prime Minister proclaimed the deal as a “historical initiative, with major gains for India” and that “the country would only be able to appreciate the significance of this deal in due course of time.” Later, Sonia Gandhi reasserted his views by stating that the opponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal were anti ‘development, prosperity and peace.’ If the deal is so beneficial for India, then why hasn’t Manmohan Singh presented this in the Parliament? Rational thinking would suggest that if something is so important to a country, then it would definitely get approved in the Parliament. The baffling part is that majority of the Congressmen are unaware of most of the details in this deal, let alone the left and the remaining Parliament members. If a cause is so ‘noble’, as the Prime Minister would suggest, then why is he keeping everyone in the dark while signing this agreement? One would have no choice but to believe that he is simply abusing his power and is singlehandedly changing (or distorting) India’s foreign policy (with the help of Sonia Gandhi, of course).
It is rather noble of Manmohan Singh to stand his ground at the cost of losing his chair and Congress losing its power, isn’t it? Not really. With Mulayam Singh Yadav, chief of the Samajwadi Party, ready to bail him out of trouble, the Left walking out of the coalition shouldn’t really bother the Congress. Samajwadi Party (SP) currently has 39 seats in the Lok Sabha and would clearly be the second biggest constituent of the alliance, if the Left said its last “Goodbyes.” With such a sturdy contingency in place, why wouldn’t anyone sound confident?
Now let us shift the spotlight and talk about the CPI(M). When Manmohan Singh made an agreement with Bush in 2005 on this rather debatable issue, the Left was exasperated that the Congress took them for granted and signed the agreement without their consent or knowledge. It would definitely be a dubious proposition if I were to say that the Left is doing this more out of spite than otherwise; but I will still go ahead and state it.
Looking at the possible scenario of the SP helping out the Congress, the Left has already threatened the SP, saying that if they support the Congress and this deal (consequently the U.S.), they will lose out on the Muslim Vote bank (who supposedly have anti U.S. feelings). Therefore, also making the Left communal in nature and no different from the BJP. Another question that arises in my mind is, if the CPI(M) is leaving the coalition on grounds of the nuclear deal, then why is it bothered whether some XYZ party joins the Congress or not?
Is the Left so dead against the deal that they are willing to stage a walkout? Or are they trying the same tactics which Mehbooba Mufti’s party tried in Kashmir? The last thing that the Left would want is to be associated with anything vaguely related to the word “Inflation,” as it clearly goes against the interests of the aam aadmi. So is the CPI(M) just using the deal as an alibi to part ways?
The possibility that the Left feels strongly against ‘closing ties with the U.S.’ cannot be ruled out. They definitely feel that the Prime Minister’s approach towards the deal showed “how deeply the Congress is entrenched with US interests,” even to the extent of ignoring the inflation crisis in India.
“Politicians are like diapers, they both need changing regularly and for the same reason.” The next few days will decide the fate of Indian politics. The BJP never had it so easy. The Congress, crushed between inflation and the deal, has no one to turn to. The Congress isn’t “right” and neither is the Left. They both seem to be entangled in this dirty web of politics and power. As Richard Armour once said, “ Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.”
Samarjit Singh Khanna