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Left out of security debate - The Pioneer

Barun Sengupta ()
June 4, 1998

Title: Left out of security debate
Author: Barun Sengupta
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: June 4, 1998

The reactions of the CPI(M) and the CPI on India's nuclear blasts
have astounded many. Few are even disappointed. In Calcutta,
during the last few weeks, I have beard from many people wanting
to know as to what has happened to the leaders of the Left, and
why are they taking a position that is known to be against
national interest.

I am not at all surprised by such reactions from these parties
though. 1 have been a witness many times to the Left's stance on
such matters in the last 50 to 60 odd years. Throw your memory
back to the "Quit India" movement days in 1942. Thousands of
countrymen had been jailed during the movement at Mahatma
Gandhi's call. However, the Indian communist., opposed this
historic occasion. But that was not all; these parties extended
support to the British during those years. They had also
actively opposed tile Azad Hind movement of Netaji. Taking
financial help from the British, the Indian communists launched a
campaign saying that Netaji was India's enemy and a stooge of the
Japanese. Jojo was then the Japanese Prime Minister. The Indian
communists put up posters in several parts of the country
depicting Netaji as "Jojo's dog=94. They organised meetings stating
that the World War II was a people's war and that the Indians
should help Britain's war effort. Since Russia was at that time
a part of the allies, it was like the fatherland for the Indian

Again, the 1962 Sino-Indian war resulted in dissimilar reactions
>from the Indian communists. The Communist Party of India was
split vertically; one was pro-China, the other pro-Russia. Each
part was pitching as per it allegiance. I also saw that the pro-
Russia communists favoured India's and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman's
cause in the 1971 Bangladesh conflict. The (CPI(M) in those days
was trying to find fairs with the cause. Ganashakti, the party
organ, tried to depict Indira Gandhi as a trickster. The, CPM(M)
was never overtly happy the liberation of Bangladesh. The CPI, on
the other hand, helped India ill this war. It never opposed
India's stand in Bangladesh's liberation war.

This being the track record of the Indian communists, one should
not really be surprised at their reaction to the country's
nuclear blasts. With the Chinese Communist Party roaring its
protests against India going nuclear, it is quite natural for the
Indian communists to react in similar fashion. Had it not been
for the fear of losing votes in the elections, they would have
taken a harder line.

We are, therefore, looking at the fact of Indian communists
having two godfathers. Earlier, in the 1940s, their one godfather
was .Russia and the other was Britain. The Indian communists
worked as spies and servants for the British, while Russia was
the fatherland. Now, with India's nuclear blasts, it is clear as
to who their two current godfathers are: One is China, and the
other is the US. The pro-China communists of this country have
always maintained a covert relationship with the US. They have
never openly said anything against the US, and even today,
although they openly advocate the Chinese line, they have
covertly taken up the cause of the US. Quite a number of Indian
communists are up In arms against the Vajpayee Government saying
that this administration is spoiling India's relationship with
China. They have also said that India's nuclear blasts are
actually a part of our military preparation against China.

These pro-Chinese Indian communists never uttered a word when
China exploded its nuclear device one after another in the mid-
1990s before signing the CTBT. They never opposed China when it
was arming Pakistan with deadly weapons. Our communist friends
are still silent now that China has joined chorus with the US in
condemning India. Barring the Vietnam episode, the Indian
communists have always danced to the Chinese tune. Also, during
the Naxalite movement, these communists were less vocal against
China. However, today they are coming on strongly against the
Government's stand since the Chinese are also against it.

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the Vajpayee
Government is anti-China. Prior to the present Government's
coming to power, India had been trying to improve its relations
with China for the past 15 years. In spite of this, China was
seen to be helping Pakistan's nuclear programme. Then what did
India's peace initiative achieve? And why are the Chinese still
providing technical assistance to Pakistan for developing weapons
of mass destruction? And why did they oppose India's role in
liberating Bangladesh? Also, why did they support the Pakistani
military regime? When China explodes a nuclear device it does not
merit criticism. But when India does the same the Indian
communists are up in arms. Does China have the sole right to go
nuclear? Arguments put forward by the CPI and the CPI(M) will
never be fathomed by the Indian nationalists.

The CPI(M) leaders are now trying to project Prime Minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee as the villain of the piece. How can these
leaders, Indians by birth, be so pro-Beijing and pro-Washington?
On May 15, West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu said at a
meeting in Calcutta that the Pakistan problem cannot be solved by
blasting bombs or waging a war. It can be solved by way of
discussions only. Does this mean that India made no efforts to
hold talks with Pakistan? Moreover, has Pakistan shown any
genuine interest in solving the bilateral problems peacefully?
Despite India's willingness to solve disputes amicably, Pakistan
has continued to indulge in cross-border terrorism. Did Pakistan
listen to reason before marauding Bangladesh with tanks and guns?
Had it not been for the beating Pakistan received at the hands of
the Indian Army and the Mukti Bahini, liberation of Bangladesh in
1971 would have been extremely doubtful. Would crores of
Bangladeshis have ever found relief or succour from Pakistan had
it not been for this beating?

Bad pennies have to be dealt with firmly. The Indian communists
can be made to, see reason only if they are talked with in strong
language. Mr Jyoti Basu also said in the meeting that a country
cannot become powerful by blasting bombs alone. It is true that a
country cannot become powerful until it is economically powerful.
But a country that is only economically powerful and does not
possess the necessary military might too is not powerful in the
true sense. A country can defend itself only with a strong
economy. But down the ages, all countries have also required to
be armed. India, on the other hand, only concentrated on its
economic improvement, With bountiful natural resources, India
built up a strong economy over a long period of time. This led to
repeated invasions over its territory by hordes of foreigners.
Due to a lack of organised self-defence, India slowly succumbed
to these foreign invaders.

Can we afford to sit still and do nothing about this today?
Should we not develop a modern and powerful defence system? Try
to contemplate the scenario if we were to go by the communist
view of things: A nuclear-armed China and Pakistan in the
neighbourhood, with India still latching on to its conventional
weapons and seeking parity! Is the country not faced with grave
danger today? Had we not possessed contemporary weapons during
the 1965 and 1971 wars could we have won them? A householder
keeps guns only for self-defence, not for aggression. We, require
nuclear weapons by the same logic. No matter how severe is the
protest against India's weaponisation by the foreign powers and
their middlemen, we must not retreat.

(The writer is editor, Bartaman)

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