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Sleeping with the Enemy

The Indo-US nuclear deal seems to be dead. The Congress has now realised that it did not read the left very well. The party may try to revive the deal after the next elections if it retains office, but it could find itself sleeping with the same enemy.

OF LIFE, LETTERS AND POLITICSOctober 27, 2007 Economic & Political Weekly8Sleeping with the EnemyGPDSoon after that gross error, the govern-ment has added another triumph of sorts to its record. One day it is the march to the inevitable nuclear deal. On another day “it is no big deal, we can hold on” approach. The net result is that the much tom-tomed deal has seemed to disappear like a bad dream. Sleeping with the “enemy” of the nation has done no credit to India’s foreign policy. The Congress and its partner allies in the government knew all along that the left had chosen not to be a part of the govern-ment but it was an ally that they could not do without. Its support was necessary to keep the government going. It had also been more than amply clear that the left was in no mood to compromise on the question. Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya were rumoured to be favourablyinclined towards the deal. But this supposed inclination was not parti-cularly meaningful. The hope that their individual views might make the dif-ference was an illusion. Much to the dis-comfiture of the Congress that is not how communist parties function and certainly not the CPI(M). The Congress leadership should have remembered the earlier difference within theCPI(M) on the question of Jyoti Basu heading a coalition government. The politburo prevailed and the then West Bengal chief minister was left characteris-ing the party decision to be a “historical blunder”. One got a distinct impression that the advisors to the Congress estab-lishment took the critics of the organised left bit too seriously. That view projected the organised left as a bunch of opportun-ists, may be worse still, revisionist oppor-tunists who, when the time came would retreat from their “dogmatic” positions.Congress and RevisionismOf course within the Congress, revisionism is the norm. For the Congress revisionism is the monopoly of the supreme leader. Indira Gandhi revised the earlier Nehruvian perspective. Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao in turn revised the poor andpoverty obsession of the Indira regime. NowSonia Gandhi has sought to take India’s foreign policy out of the earlier perspectives. The Congress had thundered that those who are opposed to the nu-clear deal were enemies of the country. Why did Sonia Gandhi choose to act, rather speak such brave words, one would never know. No doubt there is al-ways a possibility that she or her courte-ous prime minister might share the secret with Sitaram Yechury or some other left leader. It may not be necessary to state that it will be aCPI(M) leader. Manmohan Singh had likewise earlier made a tough statement on the nuclear deal and the left. It appeared that the deal may or may not be through but the political deal with the left was. There was all round jubilation in the English reading andSMS-sending populace of our country. The media, especially some of their bright boys who thought that Prakash Karat was the most hated politi-cian in the country had good reason to call for a celebration. And just as the glasses were being taken out the government thought otherwise and decided that this government was after all not a single-issue government. The deal can and should wait. It is difficult to think of another faux pas of this order by any government of India since independence. But this govern-ment has decided to excel in thoughtless-ness every few days. Not long ago there was the case of the affidavit in the court that chose to declare that Rama never existed. Why it was neces-sary to say that will forever be shrouded in mystery. The rather naïve minister of cul-ture thought that the government would get away by blaming the officials of the Archaeological Survey of India and the government could get out of trouble. It did not happen and the Sethusamudram project is clearly in the doldrums. The people who think that Adam walked on those dunes or those who think that Rama had a bridge constructed there can now be happy for “keep everybody happy” is the cardinal principle of our politics. The Indo-US nuclear deal seems to be dead. The Congress has now realised that it did not read the left very well. The party may try to revive the deal after the next elections if it retains office, but it could find itself sleeping with the same enemy.

MANOHAR

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INDIAN DIASPORA IN WEST ASIA A Reader Prakash C. Jain (ed) 81-7304-727-8, 2007, 340p. Rs. 850 INDIAN JUDICIARY AND POLITICS The Changing Landscape B.D. Dua, M.P. Singh and Rekha Saxena (ed) 81-7304-723-5, 2007, 489p. Rs. 1195 TRADE AND TRADERS IN EARLY INDIAN SOCIETY (Second Revised and Enlarged Edition) Ranabir Chakravarti 81-7304-695-6, 2007, 299p. Rs. 295 (Pb) SITUATING ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY Ranjan Chakrabarti (ed) 81-7304-683-2, 2007, 396p. Rs. 995 INDIAN MONEYLENDERS AT WORK Case Studies of the Traditional Rural Credit Market in Dhanbad District, Bihar Hands-Dieter Roth 81-7304-730-8, 1983, rpt. 2007, 112p. Rs. 200 (Pb) SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC HISTORY OF EARLY DECCAN Some Interpretations Aloka Parasher-Sen (ed) 81-7304-053-2, 1993, rpt. 2007, 304p. Rs. 625 THE DUTCH FACTORIES IN INDIA A Collection of Dutch East India Company Documents Pertaining to India Vol. II [1624-1627] Om Prakash (ed) 81-7304-739-1, 2007, 413p. Rs. 995 SACRED LANDSCAPES IN ASIA Shared Traditions, Multiple Histories Himanshu Prabha Ray (ed) 81-7304-726-X, 2007, 396p. Rs. 995 MEN WITHOUT HATS Dialogue, Discipline and Discontent in the Madras Army, 1806-1807 James W. Hoover 81-7304-725-1, 2007, 314p. Rs. 750
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