United Progressive Alliance (UPA) under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is increasingly coming under the Left pressure.
A look at the strains on economic and foreign policies will suggest that it is the irritably intimidating hand of the communists that is pushing the UPA trolley.
The communists have no compunction in lobbying for a Chinese firm when it comes to the privatisation of port. Suddenly, the opponents of PPP and globalisation become the champions of foreign investment and privatisation. All this despite the grave security concerns raised by the intelligence and security agencies, the armed forces, the ministries of defence and home, and the national security adviser.
Chinese company Hutchison Ports Holding, the CPM wants, should be allowed to build ports. Security experts pointed out that even in the United States, the greatest free market economy, there is a legislation that screens firms involved in operating assets of strategic importance. They gave the example of the recent controversy in the US where Dubai Ports was barred from acquiring P&O, even though it had the backing of the White House.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government body led by the secretary of the US Department of the Treasury and consisting of representatives from other government agencies, approved the deal on January 17 after the company gave assurances that employee lists and other information would be made available. DP World agreed to an additional 45-day review after the controversy erupted. Many US lawmakers argued that allowing a foreign-owned company, particularly a company owned by the UAE, undermines national security. They note that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from the UAE and that they drew funding from Dubai banks before the attack. The UAE also was one of the only three nations to recognise the Taliban'sregime in Afghanistan. The UAE company was barred, despite the fact that the Middle Eastern country is a US ally in its war on terror. On the other hand, we have fought a war against China. There is still a border dispute with it. Further, China has close relations with Pakistan. Worse still, China supports many insurgent groups in our north-eastern states. Therefore, a company that has links with China cannot be allowed to bid for our ports. Not surprisingly, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan advised against HPH; the advice has been accepted by the government. The government should stick to its decision to bar HPH.
The security agencies and armed forces have expressed concerns about the Chinese company taking over any port in the country. The issue was debated at the highest level. Representatives of security agencies asserted that ports are of strategic importance. The slightest suspicion about any firm disqualifies it from operating such assets. Officials from the ministries of defence and home endorsed similar caution. According to defence officials, if HPH is allowed to take over any ports, the Hong Kong-based company would have access to information pertaining to naval strategy.
It is surprising that the biggest enemies of market economy, the communists, have suddenly discovered the virtues of openness, though only in one area of the economy. What is less surprising is CPM'slobbying for HPH. For, the CPM has always promoted China'sinterests, even during the Sino-Indian war.
The communists also want to mould the country'sforeign policy. In the 14th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Havana, they found a pretext to impose their discredited agenda on the nation. Traditionally, NAM summits have been jamborees; they have hosted and feted some of the worst tyrants of the world; the forum has been used to air high-decibel baloney. As the swansong of the ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro, the longest-ruling dictator, the event was another hot-air festival where nasty things were said about the US and ?neo-imperialism.? Venezuela'sdespot Hugo Chavez?the twenty-first century poster boy of the Left who uses his poor country'soil revenue to aid violent movements all over the world?was to be a big draw. Then there was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Communists want India to once again come close to such tyrants, and spoil our growing ties with the US.
It is time Prime Minister Singh asserted himself and told the Left that the country would not be subjected to its jaundiced ideology on issues pertaining to economic and foreign policy.
Hints have already come regarding NAM'sintended support for Iran'snuclear programme.
Needless to say, Prime Minister Singh is under tremendous pressure from the Left to re-embrace the foreign policy shibboleths that the nation abandoned after the Cold War.
Since the commencement of liberalisation in 1991, the regimes in New Delhi have, more or less, continued with economic reforms, the broad contours of which are fiscal prudence and smaller government role in economy and greater say of private parties in various sectors. On foreign policy, there has been an even more pronounced consensus.
The communists, however, want to demolish the consensus and aspire to impose their own ideology on economic and foreign policies of the nation. They pressured the UPA government not to hike the prices of petroleum products. Such posturing exhibited the apogee of duplicity and hypocrisy, for communists had thrust upon the government programmes like the imprudent, revenue-guzzling employment guarantee scheme. This further damaged the already precarious fiscal situation. In short, the Reds cry for the imposition of policies and programmes that burden the exchequer, and then they cry again when the government tries to raise revenues. And yet they have the cheek to take a holier-than-thou stance!
Another instance of communist doublespeak is their views on public-private partnership (PPP). It is a truism that the Reds want state role in economy to increase and the private sector kept at bay. They have railed against Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a champion of liberalisation, for his enthusiasm for PPP. They are opposed to PPP or privatization on many grounds; one of these is national security. On the modernization of airports, the Left parties prepared and submitted to the UPA-Left Coordination Committee Meeting on January 12, 2006, ?the security and strategic reasons also do not justify handing over of airports in the national and commercial capital of the country to the private sector.
?Since Delhi & Mumbai are sensitive to security threats, any leniency/compromise on the part of the government towards security of these airports may result in a national disaster.?
Now, communists? expressing concern for national interest is like the editor of Hustler sermonizing about the virtues of a chaste life. It is only because of an extremely perverted public discourse that the Reds are allowed to get away for their sins; the liberal opinion-makers, who are always keen to castigate and deride any Right-winger on any pretext, rarely dare to call the bluff and bluster of the commies. So, the traitors of 1942 and 1962 have the audacity to don the mantle of ideology. And they inveigh against the privatization of airports even as they want ports to be handed over to the Chinese.