Irrespective of correctness or otherwise of the Left’s position on the nuclear deal, the fact is that the Left has supported the UPA’s government at the Center despite its differences with its economic policies. This has been a great shift in the Left’s position to ensure that a secular government is in place at the Center, unlike in the past when it joined hands indirectly with the BJP to ensure that the Congress remains out of power. This goes against the CPM’s political characterization of the stage of the Indian revolution- the people’s democracy according to which the communists have to be the leading political force in the government. This goes also against the CPM’s traditional anti- Congress stance. The Left has helped to prop up a basically Right wing government if one considers only the economic policies. The main reason has been its correct understanding that the BJP presents a far greater danger to the country. To some extent, despite the continued swing to the Right in economic matters, the last four years have indeed changed the atmosphere of debate- discussions have moved towards “inclusive growth” and there has been a reduction, if not an absence, of communal tensions. This has been the result of a great degree of maturity shown by both the Congress/UPA leadership as well as the Left.
Manmohan Singh’s rather opportunistic move to seek the support of Mulayam Singh/ Amar Singh led Samajwadi Party brings this experiment built over last four years to a tragic end. The Samajwadi Party traces its origins to virulent anti- Congressism of Rammanohar Lohia and the SP has consistently opposed the Congress till now. Now all of a sudden, in the backdrop of Mayawati’s coming to power on her own in Uttar Pradesh and her onslaught against the SP, we find that it sees merit in the UPA, especially the nuclear deal!
Manmohan Singh’s tendency to bend backwards in following anything that appeases corporates and neo- liberal adherents is now no longer “instinctive”- it has now become a cultivated habit to be followed no matter what the cost is. What else explains his complete lack of responsiveness to go ahead and take action against US corporations responsible for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy in contrast to his single- minded obduracy on the nuclear deal?
It is not just the Left that is opposed to the deal- the BJP too is also opposed to it. The SP has just changed its mind for less than principled reasons. Mayawati now opposes it- her reasons for political expediency not being too different from that of the SP in that these are driven by local concerns and not the foreign policy or the nuclear deal per se. The Left, for all its dogmatism, is pretty much consistent in what it says- the SPs and BSPs are not- their concerns (with respect to the nuclear deal) are at best regional or local. The point is that far from there being a consensus on the deal, there is a wide variance in the response of political parties to it. The UPA’s decision to go ahead with the deal- that too with one of the most discredited presidents in the history of the United States at the expense of its most consistent supporter (that does not even, to be fair to the Left, partake of the ‘cake’ of minister ship) is a step back to the days when the Congress under Mrs Indira Gandhi was perceived as an autocratic ruler in Delhi.
If the UPA had not gone ahead with the deal, it might have suffered a temporary loss of face, and the Left would have taken the flak for its obstinacy. Ironically, it was Mrs Sonia Gandhi who used the Gandhian technique of sacrificing a position and winning a moral battle. Manmohan Singh has done exactly the reverse- he might have won a battle, but he has lost the war and put to rest the experiment to build a Centrist United Front.
The UPA, already under heat for the rising costs and an ineffective programme for the poor, is pretty now pretty much against the wall in the next general elections. All the objective conditions for the revival of the Left are there- but alas, because of he lack of its organizational spread (to say nothing of its ideological obsolescence) the break up the United Front experiment built over the last four years, paves the way for the re- emergence of the communal Right in the backdrop of a combination of fragmented/caste/personality based groupings. If one person can be identified who has stabbed this four year old reasonably successful experiment , it is Manmohan Singh. In that, he has simply followed his mentor Narasimha Rao, who set the BJP/NDA on the road to power in 1998.