Red in the face
| Let down
It is not as if only the people of Bengal are rejecting the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Comrades around the world are finding it difficult to accept some of its obsolete ideas. At the three-day international conclave of communists held in Delhi recently, politburo member, Sitaram Yechury, who heads the international committee of his party, proposed to impose a two per cent service tax on foreign capital in the share market. Yechury also expressed his desire to include the proposal in the Delhi Declaration, which was scheduled to be passed by the comrades. But, to the utter shock of Yechury and his Indian comrades, the proposal was rejected by the delegates because China, Vietnam and South Africa were opposed to the idea. The CPI(M), apparently, had kept Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee away from the conference to protect him from embarrassing queries that were likely to be raised over the current situation in West Bengal. But with the international delegates rejecting Yechury’s proposal, the party could not quite save itself from the blushes.
After the cold shoulder from international guests, here is another bit of news that will make Left leaders squirm. At the conclave in the capital, volunteers deputed to look after the needs of international delegates were barred from eating the food at the five-star venue. The CPI’s Pallav Sengupta was directed by Sitaram Yechury to inform volunteers that they would not be allowed to have the same food as the delegates, and that they were expected to make arrangements for themselves. Sengupta’s announcement shocked some of the senior comrades and the irate cadre of the two Left parties proceeded to do what they knew best: they refused to work any further. The issue, however, was resolved when they were allowed to grab a bite.
The Congress had hoped that the Liberhan commission’s findings, which indicted senior leaders such as AB Vajpayee and LK Advani in the Babri Masjid episode, will not only deepen the gloom in the saffron camp but also bring cheers in its own rank and file because PV Narasimha Rao’s name has been cleared in the affair. But the fact remains that some Congressmen are feeling equally despondent after reading the contents of the report. Take Arjun Singh, for instance, who, according to the grape vine, would have been only too happy to see PV Narasimha Rao nailed. After all, Singh, Makhan Lal Fotedar and some other Congress leaders had quit the party protesting Rao’s inaction over the demolition of the mosque and his alleged involvement in the sordid affair. Now, to get even, Singh, who has been sidelined in the Congress, is supposedly penning an entire chapter in his autobiography to reveal how the former prime minister refused to do anything in the matter despite urgent appeals from the party, thereby earning the epithet, maunibaba, for himself. Meanwhile, even as the storm rages over the findings, Bharatiya Janata Party is hoping that Singh’s silence will soon give way to a deafening roar, plunging the Congress in a crisis as well.
Even as the Congress and the BJP fight over the Liberhan commission report, the mystery over its ‘leaking’ in the media continues to deepen. The home minister has assured that all was well from his ministry’s end. Liberhan has also stated that he has nothing to do with the spilling of the secret. There is now some noise that the counsels who were attached to the commission earlier may have something to do with the mischief. Surely, it is now time to appoint another commission to see what had gone wrong in the first place.
Journey with a purpose
The netas had gone on an austerity drive to cut down expenses during the meltdown. The global economy has not recovered fully, but our politicians seem to have forgotten their pious pledge already. For evidence, one only needs to look at the decision to send an all-party delegation to the climate conference in Copenhagen next month. The bill will apparently be footed by the Union environment ministry. What we know is that the Lok Sabha Speaker will lead the delegation, but it is not exactly clear as to how the honourable MPs will contribute to the deliberations that are expected to be highly technical in nature. However, the environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, will not mind the expenses. He will be hoping that the pleasant trip will make the MPs support his controversial views on climate change.
What had made Amar Singh lunge at the BJP’s SS Ahluwalia? We are told that the fracas may have something to do with the following incident. A day before the scuffle, Singh had allowed the media to take pictures of his ‘embrace’ of Sushma Swaraj. Poor Swaraj didn’t know what had hit her, but tried to diffuse the situation with an ingenious explanation: her daughter, Bansuri, Sushma stated, calls Amar “chama” — a clever fusion of the words, chacha and mama — because she considers Singh to be a brother to both Sushma and her husband. So Sushma countered that there was nothing wrong in receiving some brotherly affection. But Mulayam Singh would have none of it. Having burnt his fingers after ‘embracing’ Kalyan Singh, he asked Amar to prove his ‘animosity’ to the BJP. Amar, ever the loyal partyman, obliged by attacking Ahluwalia. One wonders what Sushma’s daughter has to say over chama’s conduct.