Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: Socialite standing

Socialite standing - India Today

Swapan Dasgupta ()
March 9, 1998

Title: Socialite standing
Author: Swapan Dasgupta
Publication: India Today
Date: March 9, 1998

Forget that they have operated as extension counters of some of
the most barbaric regimes-Stalin, Pol Pot and Nicolae Ceausescu
come to mind readily. Forget that socialism has been responsible
for keeping India trapped in a maze of stifling bureaucratic
controls. When it comes to that nebulous commodity called
respectability, there are few who can outshine India's
communists. Whether it is Jyoti Basu, whose rising national
stature is inversely related to the performance of the Left Front
Government he heads in West Bengal or the Maoist Co-ordination
Committee (MCC) in Bihar that covers its inherent criminality in
the cloak of socio-economic disparities, the Left has always
received the benefit of the doubt in this country. Not from the
people who are rarely inclined to vote red-witness the southward
electoral graph of the two communist parties. The generosity
comes from an intelligentsia that has intriguingly concluded that
it is kosher to be "progressive". Even Star News feels obliged to
package every thinly attended dharna of the CPI(M)'s front
organisations as a momentous event.

The lustre of the Left is relative. For a tiny section that loves
power without being tarred by its associations, the Left is the
most aesthetic route to influence. The Congress is too shambolic
and politically lascivious to warrant any direct association. The
BJP is too middle-class and too obviously Hindu for avant-garde

The Left is different. It ensures standing and even power in
academia and the arts, and it is the magnet for patronage.
Sitaram Yechuri may never win a municipal election in Delhi- his
only known area of political activism-but he spun rings round the
two United Front governments because he had an erudition that
stretched to subjects slightly beyond Sambhal and Hajipur.

This, in a nutshell, is the reason why the Left retains its
importance today. When Mulayam Singh Yadav defends a
"constitutional history-sheeter" like Uttar Pradesh Governor
Romesh Bhandari, it carries zero credibility. On the contrary, it
merely strengthens the suspicion that the abortive Jagdambika Pal
coup was aimed at ensuring a favourable administration during
polling in one constituency. But when CPI(M) General Secretary
Harkishen Singh Surjeet sheds his gloves and launches into a
frontal and somewhat undignified tirade against the President of
India, it cannot be ignored. Surjeet's point-promptly endorsed
by Basu in Calcutta-is that Governor Bhandari is committed to
fighting the BJP and must be supported unhesitatingly, never mind
his questionable track record and non-adherence to propriety.
When it comes to war-which is how the CPI(M) sees its rivalry
with the BJP-all means are justified. To uphold what it considers
true democracy, the CPI(M) is even prepared to subvert democracy
as we know it.

Which is why it will be interesting to observe the CPI(M) if the
BJP-led alliance fails to cross the magic 2 72 mark and no
formation ends up with a clear majority in the Lok Sabha.
Regardless of what Basu said about Sonia Gandhi being a
"housewife" and what Surjeet said about never supporting the
Congress, the CPI(M) seems to be on its way to becoming the
"progressive" appendage of 10 janpath. Every firm needs erudite
retainers with social standing. The Nehru-Gandhis are no
exception. Even Sonia's father kept a dog named Stalin.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements