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Phoney patriots, these Commies

Phoney patriots, these Commies

Author: Editorial
Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: September 29, 2004
UR: http://www.samachar.com/features/290904-editorial.html

So Jyoti Basu has called the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a `World Bank man'. And that may be why, the veteran Communist leader seems to argue, Singh insisted on the participation of the World Bank-IMF experts in the on-going consultative process undertaken by the Commission to review the progress of the 10th Plan.

Basu did not have to add that Singh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's most trusted aide, helps himself to a very handsome World Bank pension every month which is many times more than the meager salary he might be drawing in his present job with the Government of India. But if we were to extend this line of reasoning, why stop only at the World Bank-IMF alone? Since college and university education usually helps to shape one's mindset and behaviour in latter life, Basu and other comrades who had had the benefit of the Oxbridge education may well be dubbed `British patriots'.

In any case, for decades close observers of the Indian Left have suspected that senior Communist leaders with privileged backgrounds have had a soft spot for the erstwhile British imperialist powers. Whether it had something to do with their intense antipathy towards Mahatma Gandhi and other icons of the country's peaceful freedom struggle or towards the revolutionary freedom fighters like Subash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh it was hard to comprehend. But one is certain that a certain foreign power had dictated the actions of Indian Commies like Basu and his seniors when the country was waging a mass struggle to throw away the foreign yoke.

The short point is that it does not lie in the mouth of someone like Basu to hand out certificates of patriotism to well-meaning Indians whose heart and mind is in the right place, something which can hardly be said for a man who despite 17 years of uninterrupted rule in West Bengal could not ensure the basic amenities of `roti, kapda aur makan' to `aam aadmi' in his State.

How small-minded Basu could be, Congressmen would do well to remember, can be gauged from the fact that not long ago he had contemptuously dismissed their leader, Sonia Gandhi, with a shrug of his hand as `that woman' whose right place, he had then insisted, was in her home. Or maybe a foreign-educated leader who has embraced a foreign ideology can only see his fellow Indians through his own tinted glasses.

It is absurd in the extreme to dub Montek a `World Bank man' merely because he had the right credentials and qualifications to get the coveted World Bank assignments to get which most left- oriented economists would probably give an arm and a leg each.

We have argued in these columns before that the Plan review is a mere consultative process, that the role of the `outsiders' can at best be advisory and that their number is so small that even if they wanted to they could not, would not, jeopardise the integrity of the Plan process.

Indeed, when Indians attain success abroad they seem to get more patriotic than some of the senile old men who having spent a lifetime exploiting the poor, toiling masses seemed to have forgotten how to lift them from extreme misery and destitution. As reports have pointed out there are any number of serving and former World Bank \ IMF men who have had an important role to play in shaping the country's economic policies.

Why, even Ashok Mitra, who was the West Bengal Finance Minister for a couple of years in the late 70s was a former World Bank man. The present Finance Minister of West Bengal, Ashim Dasgupta, too has been a consultant with the World Bank and if we know it right he did not spurn his generous fees in US dollars for the services rendered.

Will the pope of Indian Communists please ensure that Dasgupta, who like Montek is a `World Bank man' is ejected out of the Left Front Ministry immediately? Meanwhile, if the whole controversy over the so-called foreign experts sounds phoney and cheap, it is the Left which is squarely to blame. For they have no cogent, tenable case to make against `foreign'consultants.

The Left is on its own trip ever since it ended up with 60odd seats in the Lok Sabha due to the failure of the nationalist groups to meet its challenge in a forthright manner. The politics of pressure and blackmail it has practised since will erode the credibility of the UPA Government. Unless the Prime Minister and others in the Congress Party stop serenading these tin-pot soldiers of a failed ideology, the UPA Government cannot deliver on any front economic, social, political, et al.

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