The Left is back to what it does best - blackmail. The latest relating to the Indian stand on Iran's nuclear programme. According to the Indian Express, at a joint rally in Lucknow on November 12, the Left parties, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal (S) warned the government to change its stand. Or else, Prakash Karat, the middle-aged firebrand of the CPI (M), warns "if the government does not listen to us and see reason, we will raise the issue in Parliament and force the government to change its stand."
I am not getting into the merits of the Indian government stand on the issue. There can be endless debate on it. What's more important is how the Left is constantly threatening the government on issue after issue. No issue is sacrosanct or out of bounds for them. After having successfully stalled all economic reforms, they are now turning to foreign policy. Not for a moment are they bothered about embarrassing the country.
The Left is entitled to live in its outdated world and swear by its antiquated ideology. It is entitled to air its bizarre views. Because the left parties are supporting the government, they are entitled to persuade it to listen to them. But they - a minority partner in the coalition and one which is not even in the government - cannot keep resorting to threats and blackmail. If they are so unhappy with the government, let them withdraw support.
The Congress cannot be happy with this situation - the grand old party with a national reach reduced to being a bit of a puppet in the hands of a group of five parties with sizeable clout only in two states.
So complete is the hold of the Left over the Congress and the government that anyone with a grouse against the latter promptly runs to it for help, alleging that the United States is behind the problem. Look at the Left's shameful defence of Natwar Singh. The same Left which wanted finance minister P Chidambaram's scalp because his hugely successful, taxation law specialist wife had accepted a brief from the income tax department! Clearly, corruption is to be condoned, even forgiven, if you oppose the Americans or the BJP. But if you believe in free markets or share thoughts even remotely similar to the Americans, or are seen as being soft to the BJP line of thinking, you deserve to be thrown into the dustbin.
And if you think that is ridiculous, listen to this. Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University protested against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiling a statue of Jawaharlal Nehru, because Singh is following neo-imperialist policies. The current Congress Prime Minister is unveiling the statue of another Congress Prime Minister and the left parties will have none of it!
It's high time the Congress calls the bluff of the Left. Or else dump it before it is reduced to a laughing stock.
And the Left should realise that the more it indulges in this kind of mindless blackmail, the only gainer will be the BJP. It was also subject to all kind of pressures of coalition politics when it led the National Democratic Alliance government. But the NDA never became a joke the way the United Progressive Alliance has. If things continue this way, the BJP may well succeed in coming back to power, this time on its own steam.