Left has made a big blunder by denying Sitaram Yechury another Rajya Sabha term

They want to hold on to the dogmatic ideology at the cost of everything else.

 |  3-minute read |   26-07-2017
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It took four hours for the CPI(M) to once again take a regressive step. Eloquent speaker and one of the best known Left voices, Sitaram Yechury, has been disallowed from sitting in the Upper House for the third time.

This comes at a time when the national party has been struggling to retain its all-India status; leave alone spread its influence in the country. In today’s age of divisive politics played on communal lines, the voices of the Left are more significant in Parliament than ever before. A vibrant democracy demands it.

Sitaram Yechury’s second and current stint in Rajya Sabha, which would end in August as the Upper House re-elects its members, has been more than stellar.

Whether it’s demonetisation, GST or jobless economy, the beef lynchings or cow vigiliantism, the anti-minority bent of the ruling BJP in the Centre, or the Money Bills passed unceremoniously in Lok Sabha that were heavily criticised and revisioned in Rajya Sabha – Yechury has been one of the tireless leaders of the Opposition’s pack, holding the government to account at every step.

The Left parties, especially the CPI(M), though are a curious lot. They want to hold on to the dogmatic ideology at the cost of everything else.

A heavily divided Central Committee opined on Tuesday that Yechury making it to the Rajya Sabha with Congress support defeated their political/tactical line affixed at the last Party Congress. The CPI(M) wants to maintain equal distance from both the BJP and the Congress, even at the cost of its fast-increasing political isolation.

yechury_072617013038.jpgPhoto: Press Trust of India

It is this general rigidity that has cost the party heavy political losses in the past as well. In 1996, West Bengal chief minister and veteran Marxist leader, Jyoti Basu, had the chance to rewrite history by becoming the Prime Minister of India. The hardliner commies would have none of that.

The CPI(M) would not have its leader become PM because the Congress was supporting the government from outside. It’s also widely unknown that Rajiv Gandhi had appealed with Basu to become PM on two other occasions during 1990-1991 as well.

In 2008, Prakash Karat-led CPI(M) found it more viable to pull the plug on Congress-led UPA-I over the Indo-US nuclear deal. The days of arduous politicking and attempts of holding out an olive branch were summarily dismissed by Karat, who in his hubris further isolated a party the ideology of which finds few takers in new, now increasingly Modi-fied India.

The sacred ideology that certain sections of the party hold on to for dear life should be a means to an end. But CPI(M) sources from the West Bengal faction say that they fought tooth and nail to impress upon the party leadership that having Yechury as Rajya Sabha member would be a strength and not a weakness.

The fact that Congress was supporting the move was also a necessary evil. The Congress and the Left had aligned ahead of the West Bengal polls last year. Bengal leadership from both sides felt that it’s the best bet against Mamata Banerjee and the BJP, which has turned its divisive attention to the state.

The Left’s idea of a Third Front proved a dud. Friends like Samajwadi Party have fallen by the wayside. Politics needs allies, and realistically, the Left has only the Congress to join hands with.

But the highest decision-making body of the CPI(M), the Central Committee, comprising grand old daddies and other fogies, will never allow that to pass. Their myopic politics seems stuck in a time warp with the leaders making the same mistakes over and over again.

They refuse to keep pace with time, rejecting growth and evolution, and in the process becoming further estranged from today’s youth. There is no “alternative Left school of thought” in India any longer; the Indian Communists have unfortunately ensured that.

Also read: RSS is fascist: Truth behind its role in Emergency


Shutapa Paul Shutapa Paul @shutapapaul

The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur.

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