So to refresh everyone’s memory.

We authored the first chapter of Project Karat back in August of 2007 it appeared that the CPI-Mafioso was keen on expanding the CPI-M’s base beyond Kerala and Bengal even if it means at the cost of a few tolerable losses in the interim. Don Prakash Karat was then aiming to achieve this by not just occuppying the space of the principal opposition in National Affairs but by pretty much setting the agenda and framing the debate for the next election.

We had at that time said that BJP will be drawn into an election that is inconveniently timed and one which will be fought on issues defined by the CPI-M.

Well then along came the second chapter of Project Karat in October of 2007 at the height of the impasse between the UPA and the Left and it appeared that the Manmohan Singh Government was on life support.

At that time Offstumped had elucidated Karat’s three main objectives in taking things to the brink with the Congress.

Karat has mainly three objectives in this stand off. The first is to ensure a public snub of the Americans in a manner that is interpreted as “Indian Communists stall American designs”. The second is to ensure that the leverage his party enjoys in shaping the national agenda is not forfeited. Third and less importantly is to ensure  that he is not seen as the one who forced an early election.

As the cat and mouse game over the Indo-US Nuclear Deal played out in November in the run up to the winter session of parliament we authored Chapter 3 in Project Karat to highlight how how Nuclear geo-poliitcs, anti-american and pro-communist sentiments are being exploited to influence domestic political outcomes.

The political reality back in November of 2007 was that a radical hard left leader was holding the Indian National Interest hostage to a Communist Maximalist Program, CMP, without having to resort to an overt coup.

So naturally Chapter 4 one would have expected to be Comrade Karat raising the red flag in Delhi having gotten his way with the Congress.

But then there was no Chapter 4. Something went horribly wrong for Don Karat and his CPI-Mafioso. 

So how did the turn in events  come about between October of 2007 when the bell was tolling on the UPA and December by when the Nuclear Deal fell off the front pages after this long yawn.

Both Don Karat and his CPI-Mafioso got exposed for what they were thanks to the Taliban Act in Nandigram scripted by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

The conspiracy of silence over Nandigram by Congress President Sonia Gandhi was earned through an unwritten quid pro quo that saw Project Karat suspended.

Which brings us to the present times with the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh duo encashing the Nandigram cheque to set not just the timing of the next election but the agenda as well with the 60,000 crore  giveaway in the 2008-2009 budget.

So you now have Don Karat holding no aces to either set the timing ot the agenda for the next election. With the public rhetoric on the Indo-US Nuclear deal and the pro-china flirtations of the Left drawing criticism from Congress big-wigs the message to Karat and Co. is clear – the Congress is calling the shots now and it doesnt quite care what the Left thinks.

So now that Buddha has pooped Karat’s party to ensure there was no Chapter 4 in Project Karat, is it all doom and gloom for the CPI-Mafioso ?

Not quite for the Union Budget is yet to be passed in the Parliament and the Congress does not have the numbers to see it through. If Karat were to take his chances he is perhaps better off forcing the UPA out now by voting against the Budget rather than let the Congress call early elections sometime after June. Such a course of action would not be without its risks for the UPA could brand the CPI-M as anti-farmer for throwing a spanner in its budget. It all depends on how Karat and UNPA frame the budget to make the same argument against the UPA.

Offstumped Bottomline: As the CPI-M UNPA combine competes with the Congress over competitive populism fighting a Congress over its budget is a worthwhile gamble than fighting a Congress that has already doled entitlements to their shared vote bank.

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