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HVK Archives: Left Bastion shifts from Red to A shade of saffron (Part I of II)

Left Bastion shifts from Red to A shade of saffron (Part I of II) - The Observer

K V Lakshmana ()
February 14, 1998

Title: Left Bastion shifts from Red to A shade of saffron (Part I of II)
Author: K V Lakshmana
Publication: The Observer
Date: February 14, 1998

The hitherto unthinkable is happening in the breeding ground of
the Indian communist movement - the Jawaharlal Nehru University -
where communist historian Devendra Kaushik and confirmed
socialist Parimal Kumar Das are turning soft saffron by deciding
to form a forum to lobby intellectuals to veer around BJP's prime
ministerial candidate.

The two professors have co-convened a forum, called cademics
for Atal Bihari, last month to mobilise the thinking community
into supporting the candidature of Vajpayee as the Prime Minister
ince he is the best man for the job at present. Though
somewhat last in the day, the forum has become active and is
planning a series of seminars and symposia to bring around the
thinkers to think about the BJP.

Prof Kaushik and Prof Das are the two convenors of the forum,
which began functioning since January 18 after the duo called on
Vajpayee in the capital. Eversince then, the forum has begun
contacting intellectuals from different academic institutions in
the country and has claimed good response. It is also planning a
seminar in the capital next week.

The idea very clearly is to target the undecided voters in favour
of the candidature of Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister.
According to Das, this objective was foremost in their minds when
they formed the forum.

- Professor turns to veteran politician for all the answers

Professor Devendra Kaushik, an authority on Communist movement in
the country, today swears by Atal Bihari Vajpayee after his
search for a viable answer to the India's current problems in the
context of changes in the global geo-political realities led him
to the moderate leader of the Sangh Parivar. A consistent Marxist
by choice, he considers Marxism creative enough not to bind him
to parties which claim to be official spokesman of Marxism, like
the CPI, CPI-M, and CPI-ML. Prof Kaushik, who has authored
several books on the communist movement and a proponent of Indian
Ocean as a peace zone, has spent most of his time abroad in the
former USSR and has been decorated by Bulgaria. In an exclusive
interview with The Observer of Business and Politics, Prof
Kaushik spews venom at communist leaders from Jyoti Basu to
Sitaram Yechuri to A B Bardhan, who he says are only clapboys for
the Congress show.


Could you explain this sudden and new-found love for a
representative of Sangh Parivar, whose ideology violently clashes
with communist Ideology of which you have been an ardent support
all along your life?

Eversince Soviet Union disintergtrated, I have been looking for
forces on the basis of which we can build resistance to this
global onslaught launched by IMF and neo-moniterists, neo-
liberals. At a time when Communist movement is in a disarray. The
only challenge to these forces can come from forces of cultural
nationalism, which parties like the BJP represent.

Why are you disenchanted with the communist party?

I left the communist party after it became a tailist party of the
Congress. It moved onto the Nehru bandwagon, acting as an
orchestra for Nehru. I left the communist party long ago and
today I find that the communist movement in the country in a
total disarray. It is disoriented. From the very beginning the
approach of the communist movement has never been seriously
substantiated by an enlightened understanding of Marxism. At
times we abused Gandhi without assessing his positive qualities
and at times the communist parties became the drum beaters of the
Congress. Instead of widening its support base, it has tried to
find out short cuts, by jumping on to the casteist bandwagon. Now
you have Sitaram Yechuri, that boy from JNU, acting as an
apologist for casteist forces.

How did your search lead to Atal Bihari and why do you Insist on
drawing a distinction between Atal Bihari and the BJP?

It led me to BJP's prime ministerial candidate, a person who is
full of ideas about cultural nationalism. He is also a person who
can inspire the confidence of the people outside the BJP.

Among those in the race for prime ministership, he is the best.
Cultural nationalism is represented by the BJP, which has
elements of anti-Communism in it. I am looking for a limited role
>from this party. And mere slogans by some BJP leaders would not
end communism.

What about Jyoti Basu?

I would have been very happy had he been projected as a PM
candidate. But the problem with the communists is that they are
content to be the drum beaters and not the candidate themselves.
They have lost the will to rule. They are happy to remain a
small lobby, which gives their leaders an opportunity to indulge
in wheeling and dealing. The Indian communist party lacked a
leader like Lenin. Harkishan Singh Surjeet is a model of a
Leftist broker and the kinds of leaders he has created like
Sitaram Yechuri.

The BJP came to power after communalising the atmosphere on a
religious Issue. How can it be any different now?

He is repeatedly saying that he wants to build a temple after
consensus. Our leadership should have taken the approach this was
a disputed monument and reconstruct it brick by brick.

Should historical irritants be removed for promotion of cultural

It is not the agenda of cultural nationalism that mosque must be
pulled down. In a mob frenzy, it was pulled down. I would
suggest that there is a case for restoration of the monument
brick by brick. The question of reconstruction of a temple or a
mosque be taken up by consensus. Vajpayee is talking about this.
But this is being ignored.

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