Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Latest Traitor

As the political weather of India went 'nuclear' hot this week, lots of fools like us were glued to their television screens, trying to catch every bit of news piece and finally, the much awaited debate. Even though it seemed that the members of the house were passionately debating issues and the stand of their respective political parties, it was hopelessly fixed. They made up their mind even before they went inside the house and asked their representatives to defend the party line and condemn any opposing views, even if it made complete sense. In order to enforce this directive and also to prevent abstentions and cross-voting during the vote, they issued a Three Line Whip, which is a strict instruction to attend and vote according to the line adopted by the party, breach of which could have serious consequences like expulsion from the parliamentary group or (under worse circumstances) from the party. From my limited knowledge of democracy, I thought it involved a process where debate precedes decision and NOT the other way around!

The Speaker of the Lok Sabha, however, is a constitutional post ... over and above any political or party affiliation and so, Mr. Chatterjee couldn't have fallen under the whip. Of course, a political party can expel any of its members for what it deems unacceptable behavior. Thus, the CPI(M), licking its wounds at this point, didn't waste any time to meet hastily and came to a 'unanimous' decision to expel him from the party. It took them less than 40 hours to expel someone who has been with the party for over 40 years. Irrespective of my political inclinations or my impression of Mr. Chatterjee, it deeply saddens me to see how allegiance holds absolutely no value when it comes to political parties, especially the left. It doesn't matter if you have given your lifetime to the party or walked many a difficult mile to send across the message of social justice or waged impossible wars to uphold its principles ... you have to endure the pain of seeing friends getting critical and distant, colleagues turning into political enemies and overnight being turned into enemy number one amongst your followers and fellow party members. In almost all cases, swift expulsion is followed by vicious propaganda against the expelled 'comrade' stating how all along he/she had been a 'bourgeoisie' in thoughts and 'counter-revolutionary' in actions. Such practices have been rampant within the communist parties in Soviet Union (Stalinist purges ... which most notably took out Leon Trotsky amongst countless thousands), China, Cuba all the way to India (Nripen Chakraborty of Tripura, Saifuddn Chowdhury of Katwa, etc.).

It would be wrong to think that the Left allies had nothing to do with this expulsion. The allies had been expressing their dissatisfaction at his decision to continue from the very beginning and have been putting pressure indirectly on the CPI(M) to take some kind of action. Even during the debate, Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI could not hide his dissatisfaction and almost accused the speaker of being partial towards the UPA. The bitter comments from the left allies is almost identical to how often your neighbors seem to be more upset and concerned about your undisciplined child than you yourself are. The left allies are so hurt and frustrated at not being able to pull this coup-d’etat they, at this point, they want blood, even if it means slaughtering one of their own.

I am not sure whether Mr. Chatterjee had any clandestine political aspiration or motive that made him act the way he did … but may be in doing so he pointed out a priceless aspect of democracy ... once you enter the altar of the parliament … your obligation towards your constituents and your country far outweighs your political agenda. I earnestly hope that this brings about a welcome change … heralding a new era in Indian politics.

No comments: