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China vs India: Who's Yechuri batting for? - The Indian Express

Express News Service ()
28 February 1997

Title : China vs India: Who's Yechuri batting for?
Author : Express News Service
Publication : The Indian Express
Date : February 28, 1997

Sitaram Yechuri, the radical from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)
and a member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM)
politburo, may not have been among those who chanted "China's
chairman is our chairman" in the turbulent sixties.

But he is loath to describe China as the aggressor in the 1962 war.

On three occasions, in the Aap ki Adalat programme telecast by Zee
TV, Yechuri was asked: Who was the aggressor in the 1962
Sino-Indian war?

Each time Yechuri skirted the issue arguing that it is "not in the
national interest" to address the question, and more so since the
answer is likely to have "international ramifications".

Unlike the pro-Chinese faction of the undivided Communist Party of
India (CPI), Yechuri did not actually go to the extent of saying
that a socialist country was by definition incapable of being an

But he was unfazed in his assertion that the "dispute persists over
one state" and should be resolved by "dialogue".

Is the CPM leader suggesting that the status of Arunachal Pradesh
should be decided in consultation with China? Yechuri refused to
return calls made by The Indian Express. And his politburo
colleague, Prakash Karat, had "nothing to say".

After a period of strained relationship during the Cultural
Revolution, the CPM reestablished its links with the Chinese
Communist Party in 1982.

In November 1962, when the National Council of the undivided CPI
passed a resolution condemning the Chinese aggression, a minority
group dissented.

"The consequences which followed the adoption of this resolution
have been disastrous," it argued. "The party became in every sense
of the term a tail of the Government of India."

Now, Yechuri has reaffirmed his party's determination to remain
aloof from the official national position on the border conflict.
Even if his party is, by his own admission in Midnapore last week,
exercising "remote control".

That may not be surprising since the CPM proudly justifies the
Tiananmen Square massacre. What is surprising though is that the
CPI is actually reneging on its apparent commitment to the Indian
position. And the CPI is a constituent of the Deve Gowda

"The situation has now changed," said CPI central secretariat
member D Raja when reminded of his party's stand in 1959 and 1962.

"The military conflict was more than 30 years ago and in a
different time. Whatever happened, happened. There is no point in
raking up the past, especially when both sides are trying hard to
normalise relations."

Like Yechuri, Raja too refused to answer the question: Who was the
aggressor in 1962? "We have drawn enough lessons (from the
conflict)," he said. "The situation has changed now.."

It obviously must have, if both Communist parties are now
emboldened enough to give China the benefit of doubt over 1962.
Yechuri (and for that matter, Raja) need not be wary of
"international ramifications" of taking a forthright stand on
history. The ambivalence of the two Communist parties will be music
to the ears of the Beijing establishment.

After all, the successors of Deng Xiaoping are not known to
maintain enigmatic silence on the question that many Indians ask
their communists: "Which side do you hat for? And whose "national

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