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Left without credibility

Left without credibility

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September 23, 2004

Congress must choose: rein in the Left or seek a new mandate with  communists as partners

As an act of blackmail, the left-instigated removal of a foreign  consultants from ad hoc review committees of the Planning Commission as  few parallels. In their unedifying triumphalism, and in blaming Planning  Commission deputy chairman  Montel Singh Ahluwalia  for the controversy,  the communist parties can't hide their absolute, unadulterated  hypocrisy. When the Left Front government consults ADB or DFID it's  fine; when anybody else does, it's surrender to Big Bad Capitalism. When  Kolkata draws up plans for urban renewal, it's fine; Hyderabad and  Bangalore are advised by left economists at the very same Planning  Commissioner, to leave flyovers half-built and "focus on the villages".  When fellow  travelers take up long-term sinecures at the World Bank,  it's fine; when a  Congress minister talks to Washington, he's a  "Bretton Woods stooge". Left politics in India is fast becoming a race  for the moral low ground.

Left isolated pockets, such " holier than thou " humbug can be indulged  as a fringe fad. Running a country is  decidedly more serious business.  Rather than continually take the line of least resistance, the  Congress  needs to look long  and hard at the credibility of  the coalition it  leads. The UPA's success or failure will pinned on the Congress. When  the NDA lost the Lok Sabha election, the BJP  was left carrying the can,  not the Biju Janata Dal. Is the Congress alive to the political  implication of a government that   just drifts along? It is nobody's  argument that the previous NDA government's economic policies should be  carried on  without  any change. A greater sensitivity to aggrieved  constituencies is politically prudent. Yet  by no reckoning does this  necessitate a 'Fortress India's mentality. A ban on foreign inputs  amount to intellectual autarky. How is it different from the hardline  swadeshi mindset the BJP had to deal with? Does the CPI (M) see itself  as the natural successor to the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch?

The bigger questions are for the Congress to answer. The party promised  a structural delinking of politics and government, a division between  Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Yet when the prime minister and the  Planning Commission deputy Chief-they constitute the best face of this  government, upright and intellectually well-regarded-are attacked  viciously, the Congress leaves them to   the wolves. This cannot be do,  this is not what India voted for . Even H.D. Deve Gowda showed spine  when Sitaram Kesri pushed him too far. The Congress  must make a choice;  put the Left in its place or seek a new  mandate with the communists as  poll partners and the CMP as an election manifesto. India wants the UPA  to be a ruling coalition; right now it's non-governing organization.

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