During American President George W. Bush´s recent visit to India when the Left unleashed its anger on the streets, former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu was at his usual polemic best when he dubbed Bush ?a great terrorist?.
He also recalled the ?Nehru days? when the situation was entirely different, meaning India had cosied up with the erstwhile Soviet Union. ?Now, he (Manmohan Singh) goes to the airport to receive him. What a shameful thing to do,? blasted Basu. One must have watched his body language when he said this. What an extreme arrogance for a senile leader. It can happen only with the communists. The present Chief Minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, was no less polemic either. He declared Bush a ?leader of the world´s largest killing gang?.
Well, communists need not swear by democracy to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have as much right as anybody else despite the fact that their love for democracy is just skin deep and undergoes changes in definition depending on which side of their ideological bread is buttered for their interests. But they must also remember that there is something called ?reasonable restriction? for every fundamental right including the right to freedom of speech and expression. What are the reasonable restrictions? Article 19(1) of our Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech also imposed ?reasonable restrictions? under 19(2) which says: ?Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, insofar as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, (emphasis mine) public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamations or incitement to an offence?. Whether communists like it or not, friendly relations with America and its people did not suffer a setback even at the height of tension in 1971, and as of today, there are more than 2 million Indians in the US with the bilateral trade crossing 30 billion dollars. US direct investment in India was around 11 billion in 2004 itself and now it should be much more. The 300 million Indian middle class is the greatest beneficiary of friendly relations between the US and India. The latest nuke deal, whatever be its merits or demerits, conveys a very simple fact that the US is reaching out to India and would like India to be its partner on equal terms. Bush did his best to carry this message and what is more, he reversed the trend hitherto adopted by every US administration to treat India and Pakistan as equal. Bush did help India to get out of its 30-year old nuclear isolation. Is it correct on the part of Left patriarch Basu to use such an uncouth language against the elected President of a democratic country with whom we have friendly relations? Is it not an insult to the people who elected him? Even when the government issues licence to television channels, one of the conditionalities is that the licence can be revoked if the channel broadcasts anything that would be considered prejudicial to the relations with friendly States. How can a (ir)responsible party or its leader say something which is in bad taste, smacks of indecency and lacks culture? Yes, political parties should protest and they need not agree with whatever policy the government of the day pursues. But such a protest should be dignified, especially when it involves a country with which we have friendly relations. Democracy is not about rights alone, it also enjoins certain responsibilities, especially on public figures, for decent behaviour. Reasonable restrictions need not be imposed by the State by law everytime. It is for the citizens to adopt such restrictions by convention. There is no limit for the double standards of the Left. Contrast the recent behaviour of the Reds towards America with their love for dictators! Venezulean President and dictator Chavez or Cuban dictator Castro or Pakistan military ruler Musharraf are their great pals. True, invasion and occupation of Iraq and the resultant fallout of massacres in that unfortunate country are something that no one can approve of. Had our home-grown communists condemned Soviet Union with the same language when it invaded Afghanistan, Basu would have had the moral right to condemn Bush in the language that he chose to use. It was not just Afghanistan alone. Our communists´ silence was quite deafening whenever erstwhile Soviet Union invaded other countries. Forget about those countries. Take Pakistan. According to the data published by Indian Army, there are 37 terrorist camps in Pakistan, 49 in PoK, and there are 22 Pak-run terror camps in Afghanistan. Hardcore terrorists operating in J&K are around 2,300. Number of Indian civilians killed by Pakistani terrorists is 29,000. Most of the Taliban commandos including Mullah Mohammed Omar are known to be living in Pakistan. All this is due to ?courtesy? and connivance of our neighbour and military dictator President Musharraf. Cross-border terrorism has become such a menace for us that most of the border states are in a state of turmoil. But, was there any whimper of protest from the Left when the great patron of terrorists, Musharraf, visited India? On the contrary, we are talking of two-track or three-track diplomacy for peace though Pakistan resorts to seizure of our publications and blocking of Indian channels, whereas even our third-rate regional channels are vying with each other for Indian American eyeballs in that country. Let´s travel back a little into history. According to a conservative estimate, the number of people killed by the communist regimes must be in crores. For example, the Soviet toll was around 20 million, China 65 million, Vietnam l million, North Korea 2 million, Cambodia 2 million, Eastern Europe l million, Africa 1.7 million, and Afghanistan 1.5 million. According to EU Parliament data, these figures include a variety of situations like individual and collective executions, deaths in concentration camps, victims of starvation and deportations. When compared with this, deaths due to American misadventures pale into insignificance. But, for our communists, Bush alone qualifies himself to be branded as a ?terrorist? or the ?leader of the world´s largest killing gang?. In all fairness to Buddhadeb, he did not mix up issues when it concerned his state´s economic interests. He invited investments from Indonesia, especially from the Salim group which was considered to be the most favoured business group of President Suharto. Do you know what Suharto´s achievement? He was credited with the murder of half-a-million communists during his regime. But it did not deter Buddhadeb from establishing business relations with Indonesia or the Salim group. Why should there be a different yardstick and abuses reserved for Bush and the US alone?