The political emission triggered by the Indo-US nuke deal can now be felt quite clearly. The battle-lines have become sharper and it is time for every communist and every sincere democrat and patriot to stand up and be counted.
The American voice is predictably quite loud not only inside the US and in the IAEA but also right within India. The Bush administration is busy convincing the domestic opinion in America how the deal makes tremendous economic and political sense to the US – it will rejuvenate a moribund atomic energy industry in the US and will open up unprecedented opportunities for American big business in India. It will also help seal America’s ties with India and make India a crucial Asian ally of the US in containing China and the Islamic world. At the same time it is telling the big IAEA players how the deal will effectively subject a non-NPT signatory country like India to the controls embedded in the Non Proliferation Treaty. And the message to India is of course a classic example of coercive cajoling. The line goes like this – the US wants India to become a great power; and India must now behave quickly and sensibly not to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grab this magnanimous American offer.
Manmohan Singh echoes the same voice in a different accent while the UPA – United Partners of America – constituents join the Congress to sing the chorus in different Indian languages and styles so as to fully Indianise the American advice! The BJP too has now found its perfect counter prop to this UPA chorus in the Sethusamudram issue which offers a convenient escape route for the BJP from issues like the nuke deal or the naval exercise. The Congress is also quite happy to play ball on the old Babri Masjid pattern so the Left can once again be forced to side with the Congress in the name of fighting the communal danger posed by the BJP. This also enables the media to ‘establish’ the fact that what matters for the masses is either the mythological Ram or the mundane roti or both, but certainly not the nuke deal which is too complex and esoteric a topic to become a matter of concern for the aam aadmi! The communists who oppose the deal are being dubbed, if not Chinese agents pure and simple, too elitist to read the mass mind and too obscurantist to respond to the needs of ‘energy’ and ‘development’.
In the face of this media blitzkrieg and increasingly isolated from the UPA, the CPI(M) still continues to voice its opposition to the deal, but the leadership is ever so anxious to demonstrate that its opposition must not be misunderstood as being ideologically driven or politically inflexible. Hence it continues to ‘engage’ with the Congress in constant parleys and keeps saying that all it wants is only some time to discuss the deal in greater detail.
If it is just a tactical way of articulating its opposition it is patently self-defeating for it only dilutes the thrust and blunts the edge of the CPI(M)’s own logic of opposition. The common man cannot help asking if the CPI(M) really considers the nuke deal to be so disastrous for the people and the country, why does the party continue to hold parleys with the government and allow the latter to carry on with its suicidal anti-people and pro-imperialist policies! Also, why is the CPI(M) so hesitant to launch a real mass campaign on this issue in its biggest stronghold of West Bengal? In fact, CPI(M) ministers and leaders in West Bengal are busy stressing the need for more nuclear power and closer ties with the US!
CPI(M) watchers in the media of course love to present the whole thing as a case of an internal divide and disconnect within the CPI(M) – a divide between the ‘ideological’ puritans of Delhi and the pragmatic leaders of Bengal, or between an ‘insulated’ leadership operating from the ivory towers of ideology and a ‘rooted’ party machinery that knows what it takes to win elections and wield power. There is also a view which rules out any real debate within the party and treats the whole thing as a highly sophisticated and excellently choreographed division of labour between Delhi and Kolkata and for that matter within the entire CPI(M) leadership.
We cannot subscribe to such facile analyses and speculative conjectures. We must understand that there has been and continues to be a real debate – strategic and hence also tactical – within the Indian communist movement on the nature and role of the Indian big bourgeoisie. Till the onset of the neo-liberal policies in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, sections of Indian communists always treated the Indian big bourgeoisie as being essentially anti-imperialist and progressive. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and growing Indian proximity with the US-led West, the CPI(M) kept repeating its old tale of ‘reactionary economic policy and progressive foreign policy’. Now the nuke deal has pushed the CPI(M) to a corner where its old storyline of progressive/independent foreign policy can only sound ridiculously absurd. How does the CPI(M) explain and face this new juncture? Herein lies the CPI(M)’s strategic and tactical dilemma.
Over the last few years the CPI(M)’s own ‘strategic partnership’ with the Congress has been elevated to a new plane of growing collaboration including power-sharing, however ‘partial’ and ‘conditional’. Meanwhile, its opposition to the Indian big bourgeoisie’s reactionary economic policies has also been diluted by its so-called ‘compulsion’ to implement and increasingly advocate the same policy package in Fortress Bengal, its biggest citadel of power. Now, strategic partnership demands congruence in matters of policy. If the US openly insists on this with regard to its partnership with India, the logic of Congress-CPI(M) partnership will also demand the same ‘congruence’ in terms of both economic and foreign policies. And equally crucially, the CPI(M)’s own theory and practice that has evolved in the course of its three-decades-long rule in West Bengal inexorably propels the party towards a more conformist approach towards the policies of the Indian state.
It is therefore a real debate and real dilemma confronting the CPI(M) and while the so-called ‘realists’ within the CPI(M) advocate greater conformism, we revolutionaries from outside must push for greater confrontation between the parties of the ruling classes and their ruling policies on one hand and the entire Left on the other.
The direction and tasks for revolutionary communists are thus clearly cut out. We must firmly oppose the nuclear deal and must boldly push for ouster of the government that is bent upon imposing such a disastrous deal on the country and its people. We must sharply expose the pseudo-national pretension of the ruling classes and their parties and squarely combat the anti-communist propaganda and other dangerous diversionary games being played by them. Within the communist or Left movement in the country, we must reject the suicidal and capitulationist line that seeks to justify itself as ‘realism’, confront every trend of vacillation or wavering in ideology and politics and enable more and more communists to grasp and clinch the real debate and unite along revolutionary lines.