The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The Communist Party of India (Marxist) cannot be faulted for not harbouring delusions of grandeur. The fact that it still hopes for the coming of a communist revolution may perhaps be forgiven since that hope is the last article of a thoroughly discredited creed. But its attempts to broker a grand alliance of all the left and secular parties are only risible. The CPI(M) leader, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, had organized a dinner for the leaders of all the parties who are against the Bharatiya Janata Party. The dinner turned out to be an exercise in futility because the two most important leaders of the Samajwadi Party, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mr Amar Singh, did not show up for the dinner. Their absence, however much the CPI(M) tries to cover it up, is imbued with political significance. In any anti-BJP alliance, especially in North India, there are two major players, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. Without these two, any anti-BJP forum is utterly meaningless. Unfortunately for the CPI(M), the Congress and the Samajwadi Party have opened up their own channels of communication. On August 11, Mr Yadav met the Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and this was followed up by Mr Amar Singh when he visited 10 Janpath to talk to Ms Gandhi. Thus neither the Congress nor the Samajwadi Party need the CPI(M) to act as a go-between. For better or for worse, the two parties can handle their relationship with each other without any efforts from the CPI(M).

This is the background to the absence of Mr Yadav and Mr Singh from Mr Chatterjee’s dinner party. Their absence can only be interpreted as a refusal to acknowledge the CPI(M) as the chosen broker between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. The only important political leader to attend the dinner was Ms Gandhi who, for obvious reasons, does not want to close any options. She is too canny to needlessly alienate any potential ally. Left watchers will find it very ironic that the CPI(M) now crows because Ms Gandhi, about whom the CPI(M) had scarcely a good word to say even a few months back, has attended one of its dinners. The rest of the guest list was a rag tag of failed and ineffectual prime ministers and political busybodies. The CPI(M) must truly be living in cloud cuckoo land if it thinks that with its own 40 odd members of parliament and the ineffectual support of former prime ministers, it can spearhead a grand alliance against the BJP. The CPI(M) must accept, if it wants to survive with a degree of political realism and dignity, that it is not a force to reckon with on the national stage, it is a bits-and-pieces player. Second, it no longer has any credible leader despite the physical presence of Mr Jyoti Basu. A dinner party will not redeem a political party.

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