SEASONAL COMRADE

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 3.11.07
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For the innumerable members of the Prakash Karat fan club this has been the week of surprise. The good comrade discovered that the Indian prime minister is indeed a man of integrity, never mind the fact that Manmohan Singh has chosen to sell his nation’s interest to the United States of America. Never mind the fact that the buyer is the great devil himself. The gospel according to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) says so. And only a heretic will dispute the gospel. His next discovery, proclaimed yesterday, was no less stunning. He described China as a “powerful socialist” country. If China is socialist, pray what is a capitalist country? And what exactly is Shanghai? The new Dien Bien Phu? If the road to revolution connects Shanghai and Calcutta, as it was said to have done once, the West Bengal chief minister’s ideological predilections are not difficult to fathom. One need not read too much into the new thoughts of the general-secretary. (Pity he does not call himself the chairman). This is the silly season in Bengal. The monsoon does not want to end. And winter is kept waiting like a petulant lover. The no-man’s weather is the fast breeding reactor for many a seasonal illness. Running nose, simmering headaches, creeping temperatures are all physical irritants that one has learnt to live with. To this list one must now add the ideological virus.

One will doubtless learn to live with this as one has learnt to live with the more familiar everyday virus. Both invade one’s sanity. But both can be forgiven as transitory inconveniences. One has a life span of a week. The other of seven days. And a communist, like a woman, is entitled to a change of mind. Only he calls it a historical blunder. But Mr Karat was not merely being the funny man of Indian politics. He has ventured beyond his comradely prerogatives.

The US considers China a threat, he says. Ergo, he implies, it wants to ensnare India to combat the threat. The US may consider China to be a threat. Or it may not. The Telegraph will allow The New York Times to debate that. But does the CPI(M) consider China to be a threat? China and India are fighting for the same turf. Even one’s grandmother knows that. China, more than the US, is the political prop behind Pakistan. And China is in illegal possession of Indian land. For nearly fifty years, China has been reluctant to part with the stolen booty. Neither Mr Karat nor his party has ever expressed concern for this misdemeanor. No bandh has ever been called in protest against this. Nor does one recall Mr Karat ever demonstrating on this issue in front of the Chinese embassy. The general-secretary is perhaps not as familiar with the Indian classics as he is with Marx and Lenin. If he were, he would have heard of Chanakya, who came to the conclusion that an enemy’s enemy is a friend. But then Chanakya was not a communist. He was a statesman and a philosopher. And a patriot. Much like Manmohan Singh, who inherits a similar mantle some two thousand years later.