OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.

India’s main communist party celebrated the 30th anniversary of its rule in the West Bengal state Thursday.  Next only to the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan which ruled the island nation for 38 years, CPI(M)-led Left Front on Thursday, earned the rare distinction. The Left Front Govt’s 30 years in power is a record, not just on the slippery ground of Indian politics but also in electoral politics anywhere in the world. The one man who held sway for 23 of those 30 years is former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu who said West Bengal should emerge as a frontrunner in industry in the next few years in tandem with its position in agriculture to solve its unemployment. Chief MinisterBuddhadeb Bhattacharjee spoke of the need for consensus on the question of industrialization.

With the CPI-M enjoying unprecedented leverage on national politics, Offstumped takes a hard look at the role played by the Communists in influencing the UPA’s choice of candidate.

But first a note on a rather ridiculous letter written by veteran journo Harish Khare in the communist rag-tag Hindu addressed to Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat asking him to withdraw from the race. If we were to go by Khare’s theory here, one must not contest a Presidential election if one has a real chance of winning and one does not belong to the ruling dispensation. Also if one were to go by Khare’s muddled thinking, there should be no need for secret ballot, for he wants everyone to vote on party lines. The fact that the Constitution provides for a contest not a coronation and a secret ballot and not a party whip is completely lost on Khare here. It is amazing how journalists like Khare have the arrogance to trash what the Constitution rightfully provides to suit their political preferences.

So much so for the likes of Khare ! The role played by the overt Communists is no less reprehensible. Here are some of their reasons for rejecting Karan Singh and Shivraj Patil: CPI general secretary AB Bardhan was a guest at Idea Exchange, a weekly interaction with the editorial team of The Indian Express, on Friday

Bardhan said he himself told Karan Singh what his objections to his candidature were: One, he is the son of a Maharaja and two, he organized the Virat Hindu Sammelan.

The Left today has the gall to make a crime of organizing a Hindu Convention that it becomes a disqualification from running for President. It is unfathomable to what depths the Congress under Sonia Gandhi has sunk. The Congress is incapable of standing up to the Communists to defend the right of any individual organize a religious conference. By doing so the Congress has lend credence to the fiction that such individuals become communal and unfit to be President.

It is precisely this kind of dubious secularism that saw the downfall of Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress in the 80s, Sonia Gandhi seems hell bent on making the same mistakes, buckling to pressure from the Communists and handing them a veto power on a platter.

The spineless kow-towing of the Congress to pressure from the Communists reminds one of a time when a certain Patil, a congressman, gave the Communists sleepless nights.

No, Neither Shivraj nor Pratibha, Offstumped is referring to a long forgotten personality from Indian Politics, S.K. Patil, one time congress boss from Mumbai.

We circle back to 1955 Andhra Pradesh, Offstumped quotes from several media reports of that time:

the Communists had confidently expected to make Andhra their first political base in India. They talked extravagantly of turning Andhra into their “Yenan,” a citadel from which they could subvert the rest of India. They already had 46 seats, only seven fewer than the Congress Party, in the state assembly. Andhra is their kind of breeding ground: a place of extreme and uncaring wealth, and of miserable poverty. In Andhra, four in every ten people are tenant farmers and landless agricultural laborers, susceptible to Communist promises.

Last week the returns from the 8,000,000 voters were almost all in. The Communists had lost more than 80% of their strength in a sudden, numbing landslide. They managed to hold only ten of their former 41 seats against a towering new total of 120 seats for a democratic Congress Party coalition. Andhra’s Communist leader, Nagi Reddi, was beaten. India’s national Communist leader, Ajoy Ghosh, was reduced to humble mumbling about “my weaknesses and shortcomings.” The fundamental Communist strategy of conquering free India legally through the ballot box, into which six years of painstaking work had gone, lay defeated and discredited. “I do not understand how it happened,” muttered one Andhra Communist, a gaunt man with curly hair, whose job it had been to subvert the untouchables. “The stupid, dumb, illiterate masses have let us down. We should go underground and recommence our violent struggle.”

So how did this happen:

Two months ago, Jawaharlal Nehru, alerted to the menacing possibility of Andhra, flew down to campaign there for two days. His old crowd magic failed. On a wishy-washy neutralist platform (he admired “Communism,” but opposed its “methods”), he got nowhere. In desperation, the tough Congress Party politicos sent in one of the toughest of their lot, S. K. (“Eskay”) Patil, former mayor of Bombay.

What did he do.

While Nehru spoke softly abroad of Communists, Patil plastered Andhra with lurid pictures of Communist atrocities in Red China. He exploited the fall of Malenkov as proof of Communist failure and decay. “Five acres per peasant —we will give you land,” the Communists insistently proclaimed. “Give the Reds your vote,” Eskay Patil responded, “and you give away your freedom.”

The rest is of course history. S.K. Patil’s legendary run-ins with the Communists made more news over the years. In 1969 S.K. Patil declared that his professed aim was to  to “polarize” the catchall Congress Party.

“If fellow travelers and Communists are in the majority in the party, then the rest of us must walk out,” he says “If the democrats are in the majority, then the others must walk out or be kicked out.”

 So there you have it folks, The Patil who had the gall to stand up to the Communists and stick it to them. Contrast that with the spineless kow-towing of the Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh lead Congress to the Communists – what a sorry pass things have come to ?

The stranglehold of the Communists on Bengal can be directly attributed to the kind of socialisms promoted by Nehru and Indira Gandhi over the years. Today there is no effective Opposition in West Bengal.

Nitin pointed out how Socialism has got ingrained in the Constitution today that it is impossible to register a political outfit that doesn’t believe in it. S.V Raju perhaps needs to revisit his mentor Minoo Masani’s remarks mentioned above and not get worked up about Socialism. A lot has also been said in recent days on the need for a Milton Friedman, the need for a new center right political formation and on the limitations of the cultural nationalism espoused by the only mainstream political movement to the Right. Offstumped in the past on two occasions offered a middle ground to bridge the gap between those to the Right on cultural issues and those to the Right on economic issues. The gap continues to be wide and a lot more work needs to be done.

The bottomline however is there is no room in the political arena for a new formation. The best chance for the Right is to work within the current political environment and influence change. The right environment exists in the BJP ruled states with Chief Ministers who have been focused on reform. It must be recognized In the last three decades only 3 political formations have successfully emerged ground up without splintering from any pre-existing party – TDP, BSP and the AGP.

TDP’s success is largely on account of filling the vacuum of a viable opposition in Andhra Pradesh, the BSP as has been debated extensively in recent times owes its success in representing a large segment of the population which did not have a viable political voice. The AGP too owes its success to filling the vacuum in Assam as the alternative to Congress.

For any new political formation to emerge ground up and be successful in today’s political context would require 3 conditions to be met

– it must represent a significant voting bloc that currently is either not participating or not being represented by a viable political voice

– it must focus on a State where there is a political vacuum

– it must champion a cause with a strong populist streak to it, to put it crudely the equivalent of a Mandal or Ram Janmabhoomi.

Unless all three of the above are met, all talk of a new formation would be a pipe dream.

There is one state where two of the above conditions are met and there is the political environment for the third. Any guesses ?

West Bengal today lacks a viable opposition. West Bengal’s Middle Class also lacks political representation or participation. The sequence of events in Singur and  Nandigram have exposed the CPI-Mafioso to create a strong political mood for a different kind of politics premised on economic issues.

So in conclusion there is no point in debating in the abstract, if there is any state that offers a tangible, realistic opportunity for a new right of center political formation it is Bengal.

 Is the Indian Right upto the challenge to displace the Communists from West Bengal to end their 30 year honeymoon ? 

P.S.: A compilation of Offstumped taking on the Communists over the years

Jun 1, 2007 Regulating Organized Retail – CPI-M Doublethink

May 19, 2007 Some uncomfortable questions to Leftist Activists

Mar 21, 2007 Week after Nandigram comes the “I told you so…”

 Mar 15, 2007 Communists Kill Police – Communist Policing kills people !

Dec 26, 2006 Mamata’s Fast in Singur heads for the end game – What are the likely scenarios ?

Dec 5, 2006 – Mamata in Singur – Will this drive a wedge between UPA and CPI-M

Sep 02, 2006 – Communist Party of India Marxist CPI-M – Subverting Political, Economic Reform Agenda and Foreign Policy

Aug 31, 2006 – CPM seeks EC Reform – Communist attempt to undermine Constitution

Aug 17, 2006 – Communist Indoctrination in NCERT Textbooks

Jul 25, 2006 – Communist intereference in Sabarimala

Jun 4, 2006 – Indian Communists losing sleep over Office of Profit

Jan 15 2006 – End of the road for CPI

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