The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Karats missing, not CPM criticism

June 28: Things aren’t looking too good for Manmohan Singh. Mr and Mrs Karat are out of the country, but their absence hasn’t made any difference to the CPM’s pitch of criticism of the government.

The party politburo today issued a harsh statement, panning the Indo-US nuclear deal that won passage through a key committee of America’s House of Representatives last night.

The Prime Minister had almost made it sound like a challenge yesterday when he told CPI leader D. Raja that if you’re so critical of the government, why don’t you pull it down'

That eventuality is not on the Left’s mind yet, but the criticism will continue, as manifested by the statement on the nuclear deal.

It’s difficult to believe the statement has been made without CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s knowledge, which brings one to the question: Where is the party chief'

The CPM won’t say. Nor would it say where Brinda Karat is ' she’s a politburo and Rajya Sabha member who happens to be the general secretary’s wife.

They’re holidaying. “Bahar hain. Kahan pata nahin,” said a party functionary. Fellow politburo member Sitaram Yechury takes the same line.

No such secrecy around fellow CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee’s trip, though. The Speaker poses happily with Maradona, though it’s not clear from the size of the grin who is happier to have made the other’s acquaintance.

Looks like Chatterjee, like a true-blue football-loving Bengali, chose to watch Les Bleus blank out Spain 3-1 last night. And after, Hand of God meets the hand that keeps Indian democracy in line.

The Prime Minister’s words to Raja have rattled the CPM to an extent. Jyoti Basu said he expected the problems to be sorted out at a meeting of the coordination committee which has members from the government side and the Left.

He said there was no question of withdrawing support. “We have backed the UPA government at the Centre to keep the BJP at bay. But we are left with no option but to agitate against the government if it does not stick to the common minimum programme.

“Most of our central leaders are abroad and a coordination committee meeting will be held on their return to defuse the tension.”

Many are, indeed, abroad. Biman Bose, for instance. But there’s no mystery. He’s attending a Bengali gathering in Houston.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the Karats, travelling with relations, are also headed America’s way, from Europe. There are also reports, again unconfirmed, that they visited Tuscany in Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Famous people have a habit of landing up, or even living, there. Sting, Naomi Campbell and Keanu Reeves have homes. Bill and Hillary Clinton and Tony and Cherie Blair have been visitors.

But not since M.N. Roy travelled to China nearly 80 years ago have Indian communist leaders’ trips been shrouded in such mystery as the Karats’.

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