Where Left, Right & Centre meet!

It would be of help, to pundits as well as the uninitiated, to brush up on some basic political definitions. The term ‘Left’ has pejorative origins in medieval France, representing the commoners who sat to the left of the King, in contrast to the nobles who were on his right: as the ‘hand that is the weaker of the two’, ‘left’ was a metaphor for the underdogs of society. Ideologically, Leftism is taken to represent primarily socialism, ie, public ownership of means of production and a marked aversion to nationalist foreign and defence policies. On the other hand, literally, Right-wing includes those who pitch for privatisa-tion, nationalism, religion etc or combinations of them. A Centrist party is one which lies between the two, having shades of both. However, the Oxford Dictionary of Politics on which I have largely relied, cautions that these are not watertight divisions and have changed with countries and over centuries.

There are Lefts, Rights and Centres in the Indian political cauldron too, though it is constantly churning leading to an overlapping of domains. Besides, there are common denominators like pursuit of power and plunder of people’s money that render such finer distinctions on account of ideology irrelevant from the public point of view. And as if the Left-wingers and Right-wingers were not enough, the last few decades have seen sundry other parties take wing. Thanks to coalitions, these political parties can seamlessly merge with both Left and Right and even squat in the Centre.
If we ignore those sundries, the political positions, namely L, R & C are largely identifiable here and in line with the definitions as understood commonly. While socialists and communsts have traditionally occupied the Leftist slot, today, Leftism and Communism are synonymous, Socialists having become extinct. So, the Left now includes, CPI, CPI-M and assorted communists, all of whom trace their lineage to Marx, Lenin, Mao and Stalin in that order and are all enamoured of China, Cuba and Russia, not necessarily in that order. To the right is the BJP, the political progeny of the Sangh Parivar, riding on cultural nationalism.

By default, the Congress occupies the Centre. And default it is on both counts, political and idelogical. It attained political power with an unbeatable ‘25% majority’, because the larger aim was to stop the BJP. Idelogically, it has swung between extremes: It has championed both socialism and liberalisation and it has morphed from being the party that spear-headed nationalism during the freedom struggle to one that swears by a foreigner today! But left, right or centre, recent events reveal that all are in the dumps, exposed to the hilt! And with little help from their declared enemies!

Nandigram is fast turning into the Left’s Waterloo. While terror tales about the CPI-M regime have always been in circulation, for the first time the nation has had a glimpse of the sordid scenario in Bengal, behind India’s own Iron Curtain. Though it is no secret that in Communism, the Party and Politburo prevail over people and State, never has this principle been so starkly manifest as in WB now. While the poor became victims of their purported saviours, the State quietly withered away after outsourcing its Constitutional L&O duties to the violent CPI-M cadre. The killings, rape and loot were a throwback to the bloody times of Stalin and Mao and even Left-leaning ‘intellectuals’ who claim to have patented all modern ideals like democracy, liberalism and human rights, are now stumped.

Thanks to Karnataka, BJP, the self-proclaimed party with a difference has turned out to be no different when it came to political wheelings and dealings and chasing power. The Rightist party has proved itself to be incable of learning from past wrongs. Obviously, the BJP is no specialist in the twenty-twenty political game, particularly when it gets to bat second. Deve Gowda has only emulated Mayawati in refusing to take the field after having had his fill at the till. And this humble farmer had also stipulated that if at all the BJP were to bat, he alone would decide the whos and hows. With nothing more to lose, the BJP had to call off the match! Now, DG’s tendency for foul play were quite apparent all through. If the BJP still decided to play along with him, it only betrayed an unseemly hunger and haste for office. Indeed, in its eagerness to form its first government in the south, it has ended up forming one of the shortest-lived governments in the south!

It is natural that the Cong at the centre, centred as it is around the dynasty, would want absolute power. The Queen-Mother was only exhibiting that craving in true monarchist style at the recent AICC, read, All India Congress Cult, session, when she pompously proclaimed that in future, the Congress should strive to recover its lost glory, ie, its exclusive rule and break free from ‘coalition compulsions’. PM Manmohan, her pet puppet, promptly amplified his minder’s mind in one word: Rahul. And the ‘learned and intelligent’ Sardar was recommending the Saint’s son not just for the Congress but to the nation itself! So, Rahul who just recently led his party to its worst ever defeat in UP, finishing last among the losers, and who evokes yawns all around everytime he opens his mouth, is the glorious future that awaits the Congress and the nation, both being same in Congmen’s scheme of things. The Cong’s current allies are doubtless disturbed, but the nation, particularly its youth, is expected to rejoice at the coronation of the clown, pardon, crown prince. But now that Rahul is a prospective PM, are we not entitled to know, as interested subjects of a dynasty, the political plans of Rahul’s Columbian girl friend/wife, just in case?

Left, Right or Centre, any which way you turn, it is the same story: power ever, people never! Indeed, we must try looking ‘up’ to the Almighty, in the hope that He Himself is not looking away!

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Jawahar T R