The Indian communists present a pathetic picture. Nobody ever accused them of great self-respect. Their role in Indian politics was always confined to the periphery. Their politics, as a former Law Minister P. Govinda Menon described, is of the mischievous bystander throwing a banana peel, when a duel is in progress.
A daily torrent of abuse on the Left has become routine these days. All sponsored or liberally leaked from the government side, to the ever obliging, grateful media. Because they have now become the butt of joke with the bigger stakeholders of the UPA regime.
It all started with the Left opposing the presence of foreign experts in the Planning Commission. Suddenly the Left has become obscurantist, jingoistic and outdated. The tragedy is the Left has for long been enjoying a dual existence?in the supportive role of vested interest sharing power and pelf, perfidiously mouthing revolution and sympathy for the poor.
For the first time, though officially not sharing power, the Left is under scrutiny, for they are the biggest props of the Manmohan Singh government.
Restoration of 12 per cent interest as return of EPF deduction, employment generation in the government sector, full stop to disinvestment in public sector and review of earlier disinvestments and reform with human face, with lower tax and higher populism??all are revolutionary promises?though it is only four months, they now look like things of the past.
Two well publicised co-ordination committee meetings between the governing side and the supporting side have turned out to be bigger fiascos for the latter. The Left had vowed to clinch the issue of their concern in these coordination committee meetings, but on all issues they had to eat the humble pie. The comrades emerging out of the high profile meetings had eggs on their face. They were more eager to run away from quizzing by the media.
Manmohan Singh has devised a strategy to deal with the comrades. Realising their greed for cosy appointments for fellow-travellers, the government has opened all educational and cultural institutions to be taken over by half-baked experts from their ranks. Understanding the communist inadequacy in analysing modern economic data, the IMF-friendly economists of the government have simultaneously confronted them with a flood of statistics on FDI, international regulations in the communication sector and of course, on PSU selloff. The Finance Minister has informed them that it will require a mind-boggling Rs 2.5 billion annually only in the telecom sector to take tele density from the present 7 per cent to an agreeable 30 per cent in the coming years. As for security concerns, they were given a long list of 134 countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Poland and Mexico, where such restrictions are not in place. The voluminous document left the Left speechless.
For long the communists boasted of a more than fair understanding of economics. Manmohanomics looks clearly alien to them. The problem is that power-brokers sharing power cannot fight on principles. There is a mismatch between various factions of the Left and their fellow-travellers on the extent of powersharing and keeping up pretence of resistance.
They think, a long list of alleged RSS friends, for the chopping bloc will satisfy their cadre appitite. But Harkishan Singh Surjeet, a veteran past-master of about turns needs to do much more. Or else their pro-poor crusade will look pro-establishment and revisionist. As in Maharashtra the Congress will succeed in projecting itself the sole abode for pseudo-secular minority vote-banks. And the CPM will meet the fate of the CPI under Indira Gandhi.