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Saffron comrade to catch FDI mice

- Left goes out of way to woo BJP trade boss

New Delhi, Dec. 3: The Left has “Indianised” Deng Xiaoping’s theory that may now read as: it doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or saffron as long as it catches the FDI mice.

The colour-neutral policy adopted by Deng to guide China to a market economy was turned on its head by the CPI today to confer upon an active BJP leader the title of “comrade”.

Praveen Khandelwal, the secretary-general of the Confederation of All India Traders’ Association and a BJP leader, was pleasantly surprised when he was referred to as “comrade” at a Left convention against the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.

“It would not be unfair if I term Khandelwalji as comrade,” CPI secretariat member Amarjeet Kaur said while inviting the traders’ body leader to address the convention at Constitution Club.

Khandelwal, a member of the Delhi BJP’s executive committee, appeared thrilled by the egalitarian knighthood.

“Although comrade means companion, being called one by a Left leader was a matter of big prestige for me, given the fact that I subscribe to a completely different ideology,” Khandelwal told The Telegraph.

“Yes, I am associated with the BJP and had also contested the Assembly election from Delhi,” he added.

Some stung CPI leaders focused on the dictionary meaning of “comrade”, saying Khandelwal was a friend as far as opposition to retail FDI was concerned.

The semantic acrobatics showed the Left’s desperation to brush aside political affiliations in order to gather support against FDI in retail. The Left had already decided to vote with the BJP in the Lok Sabha.

Sitaram Yechury and A.B. Bardhan had joined hands with Nitin Gadkari on September 20 on the traders’ body stage to campaign for an all-India strike against FDI in retail but the BJP president was not blessed with the “comrade” badge.

Khandelwal had been specially invited to take part in the Left’s convention where he sat along with the who’s who of the Left, including CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, politburo member Yechury and CPI veteran Bardhan.

“It is perhaps for the first time a traders’ body leader has come on the Left Front’s stage, given the false notion that the Left champions the cause of the workers against the traders,” Khandelwal said in his speech.

Some Left leaders on the stage immediately denied his claim and said they had invited traders’ leaders in the past, too.

“For me, however, it was the first time I spoke from a Left stage,” Khandelwal said later. On the stage, he thanked the Left leaders for assisting his association in its fight against FDI and assured his support in return.

The politically marginalised Left appears to be depending heavily on Khandelwal’s organisation as the CPM and its allies cannot afford to directly align with the BJP, which they accuse of indulging in “communal politics”. The traders’ body has a considerable number of members and its mobilisation skills in the capital are proven.

Karat sought Khandelwal’s help from the stage. “I want to tell Khandelwalji to get all the small and big shop-owners to join us and fight against this decision of the government,” Karat said, glancing aside to catch the eye of the traders’ body leader, unaware that he had already left.