Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Samajwadi,Left and the ethics of politics

A new 24 hour soap opera is playing out in the corridors of power in Delhi in the recent days,following the debates on the nuclear Deal. This is the kind of mega serial that we have been used to, since the days of coalition politics have begun. Remember Vajpayee's 13 day Government or the drama surrounding DeveGowda's resignation in the days of the Third Front.

These dramas have given rise to new kinds of politicians, the "deal brokers". The greatest of them all is a one time small grocery shop owner from Kolkata,a man called Amar Singh. Amar Singh is having a gala time these days, happily playing his role as the King maker.

While on end of the spectrum is Amar Singh, whose stands on important issues can change faster that a chameleon changes color, on the other end is the ever-so-stubborn Prakash Karat. It is in these times of crisis that the true colors of politicians and parties come out.

The media and a portion of the Congress party has been consistently blaming Karat and the Left Front for opposing the Government's developmental plans (read neo-liberal reforms) and coming in the way of functioning of the Government. However, the politics of the Left has always been straightforward. CPI(M) has never joined the Government in the history of independent India,even when Jyoti Basu was openly offered the Prime Ministerial berth by Sonia Gandhi after Deve Gowda's resignation (If it were the Samajwadi Party,or some such, it would have fallen head over heels over such an offer:) ). It has given its support from the outside, always maintaining that it has irreconciliable differences with the Congress Party. The Party's opposition to policies has also been consistent, and even its worst enemy would not blame that Karat has flip-flopped based on secret meetings in 10 Janpath (discussing you-know-what).

That is what the Left is doing even today. With SP supporting the UPA,the Left is virtually isolated now. However,that does not bring them to a compromise on the issues of policy. Also, in the short run, it was not at all in the advantage of the Left to withdraw support from the Govt. It is not in a good shape in West Bengal where it has fared badly both in the Panchayet and the Municipal elections. Also,it is in power in all the three States it is most powerful in (West Bengal,Kerala and Tripura) and with the rising inflation, there will be a huge anti-incubency factor acting against it due to the price rise. Thus, strategically speaking, the Left would want to delay the polls for a few months now. However, these short term political complusions have not caused the Left to make U turns in policy decisions.

Let us take a peek into the Samajwadi Party's role now. SP, probably on account of their Muslim votebank,had been opposed to the Nuclear Deal till about a week ago. Suddenly, at the press conference of the UNPA, Master Blaster Amar Singh says, their knowledge and concerns on the Nuclear Deal are based on what the newspapers have said and what their "Communist friends" are said. (Here again, this time more clearly,"I am in constant touch with Prakash Karat on nuclear deal. Everything we know about the N-deal is through the Left parties.....")

Wow!! I mean Wow!!!

Leave alone a responsible political party, does even a responsible adult individual form opinions based on their neighbor's judgements? Thus, we come to know that the SP's opinion on this important issue was not based on its own judgement of the situation,but simply from hearsay.The next episode, meticulously planned by Amar Singh, is to land up straight on the doors of former President APJ Abdul Kalam (I suspect Mr. Singh had a secret phone call with Ekta Kapoor that afternoon). Now,while Abdul Kalam may be knowledgable on the technical aspects of the deal (its effects on India's atomic research etc.),his knowledge on its political fallout (Concerns on India's strategic alliance with the United States) may only be as much as that of a layman. Therefore, to hold a single individual's views as sacred and immediately declaring a 180 degree turn on policies is "naive", at best. It was a poor attempt to hoodwink the people who have voted them to power, who expect them to take a principled stand on issues, irrespective of the kickbacks or the ministerial berths that they recieve. The drama probably does not end there, for to support the UPA Govt. is to support not only the N Deal, but its various other policies (economic for instance),which they had been opposing tooth and nail till a few days ago.

And the worst part is that portions of the media, and a large part of the "Shining India" seem to have turned their backs to these facts in a frenzy of left bashing. Or it probably says a lot about the priorities of a certain section regarding issues such as "ethics" and "ideologies".