The Indian political Left is in crisis. Be it the opposition to the 123 Nuclear Deal or the dealing with Nandigram, it almost seems at times that sometimes even the more sensible of the coterie of Left’s leadership has actually lost all semblance to sanity and are increasingly reverting back to that one standard last resort fall back path of politicians worldwide – parroting the party line without any regard to reality, opinions of the people they represent or even just common sense.
The latest to fall in this category is the otherwise suave Buddhadev Bhattacharya – a self confessed “patron” of the arts and literature – yesterday, he actually defended the CPI(M) takeover of the villages! More so, there was no owning of responsibility for the total lack of state enforced law and order – instead he did what politicians from Bengal have done for decades now – blame the Central government for all their ills.
That is not to say the other parties are any better. Mr. Advani of BJP ( and Rath Yatra fame) very astutely observed that the CPI(M) have ” declared war against India”. Hello?!
The Communists which have long parroted the claim that they are the real sole representatives of the masses in India – are in a mess. In Kolkata, now you have the hoi-polloi protesting against the government. Buddhadev not only loses political credibility but also those he’d like the rest of us mortals believe are his friends, good taste and refinement being the binding factor.
And as usual, West Bengal, its people and the already battered reputation it enjoys gets yet another ding. So much for the much touted SEZs.
On the Nuclear Front, the Left seems to be actually relenting. Wonder if it was a well orchestrated political game from the beginning – as a show of force. Apparently, the Left is now open to India negotiating with the NSG as long as they dont sign the deal without discussing with them. Fair enough.
The thing about the Nuclear Deal is this – as far as the middle class and urban India is concerned – I think the Left has recognized that they are pretty unanimous in supporting the deal. Also, the America centric phobia that dictates much of Left’s ideology and actions – dont really play very well with Urban India anymore – hence to maintain any kind of political capital the Left still has with the very powerful middle class – it needs to come across as less intransigent to the deal.
I think there is a popular perception within the political punditry that the middle class does not matter in the great egalitarian experiment that the Indian Democracy is. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. The Great Indian Middle Class is more than those few who work in IT companies and live in the big cities. The Great Indian Middle Class is about aspirations.
The parents of those kids who struggle to send them to English medium schools in Indore, Gwalior, Jagdalpur, Sholapur and a countless other small Indian cities are as much middle class as the rest of us. And they aspire for a better life. For themselves and for their children.
And like the rest of us, they recognize what this pseudo-socialism based on isolationist and colonial era mindset did to us for the first 45 years of our independence. And they want us to be integrated.
I realize that everything isnt perfect with everything in India. But unequivocally, I’d rather live in India of today than the India that existed pre- 1991. And I am proud we could transition as well as we have. And I recognize we have a long way to go.
And I think, viscerally, the Left recognizes all this too. Hence the flexibility. Because, their exalted leaders – who have never had to do a day’s worth of honest work – dont want to start now.
And they would have to. Unless the Left changes. And soon.