Tuesday, October 16, 2018 |
Jana Sena Kavatu- Danger looming largePawan Kalyan Eyeing 20 Seats?Book review: A gripping tale of love and commitment from Bangalore to DubaiPrince Harry and wife Meghan Markle arrive in Australia for first overseas tourStudy finds mothers who use egg donors lack confidence in parenting abilityRavi Shastri on Prithvi Shaw: There is a bit of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Lara in himNo going back: Rima KallingalIt’s time to listen to wronged women – VaralaxmiTridha Choudhury to surprise the fans‘If anyone denies a working woman her space, he must be taught a lesson’

Book review:Rare take on Left’s political relevance may still be grist to CPM’s mills

Posted March 12th, 2018, 02:15 PM IST

Book review:Rare take on Left’s political relevance may still be grist to CPM’s mills

Chennai: Close on the heels of the CPI (M)’s shocking defeat in the recent Assembly elections in Tripura to a saffron wave in the Northeast, the late Marxist patriarch and West Bengal’s former Chief Minister, Jyoti Basu’s thoughts nearly two decades back on keeping the “relevance of the Left” seems stunningly illuminative.

Cut back to 1996 Lok Sabha elections - the CPI(M) had some 60-odd MPs’ in house of 544 then - when Jyoti Basu was seen and named as a prospective Prime Ministerial candidate with no single party winning a clear majority. But the CPI (M)’s central committee had then shot down that proposal and Basu had “lost the opportunity to become India’s first-ever communist Prime Minister”.





Mr. Basu had then openly denounced his party’s decision as a ‘Himalayan blunder’ in an interview. Basu’s loss was eventually Janata Dal leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister, H D Deve Gowda’s gain to emerge as the consensus candidate. Four years later in 2000, reflecting on those developments, Jyoti Basu, in a long interview to the well known Bengali media journalist, Suman Chattopadhyay of ‘Anandabazar Patrika’ of the ABP Group, had this to say of what the lost opportunity meant to both his party and Bengal.

This was before Jyoti Basu demitted office as the “longest serving Chief Minister of West Bengal”. Suman writes: He admitted his criticism of the party decision might be construed as violation of discipline while adding, “I did not challenge or oppose my party’s stand, I just aired my personal views. In our party, all contentious decisions are taken on the basis of majority and once a decision is taken even the dissenters have to fall in line. That’s the way a communist party works. That’s the way I have been all my life. Here too, I was a minority and went by what the majority wanted.”

Basu admitted that the PM’s job could have been “truly irksome”. Nonetheless, having successfully run a coalition “in my home state would have all gone in my favour. I am quite adept at managing contradictions, notwithstanding ideological differences of coalition partners.” Jyoti Basu went on tell Suman in that rare interview: “I have two objectives in mind. First, my assuming prime ministerial responsibilities would surely have bolstered the dying Left movement in places where we were once quite strong and powerful. That way the Left would have regained some of its lost grounds and political relevance.”

“Second, I would have got the first real chance to change the face of Bengal in a meaningful way by accelerating all-round economic development. As Chief Minister I have only partially succeeded, as in our country, all the real powers are vested with the Centre.” “I was a bit surprised to see Basu explaining his stand with such candour and honesty in a recorded interview,” adds Suman Chattopadhyay in his hammer-blow memoir, “My Date with History”.

It was Jyoti Basu’s new initiatives with an investment-friendly new industrial policy, ably supported by Somnath Chatterjee, then Chairman of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation – the latter was later to become Lok Sabha Speaker under UPA-I regime in 2004 - that laid the foundation for Basu’s successor, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, to try and win back Bengal’s once pre-eminent position in industry, “until he floundered in the face of Singur and Nandigram mass movements many years later”. Suman has put this entire story in his typical colourful and logical perspective, the hallmark of the powerful regional language press in Bengal, and later shows how it led to rise of Mamata Banerjee.

It is not easy being a political journalist, having to maintain a balance between a certain degree of warmth and informality with leaders of various political hues, and the editorial requirements of the newspaper one is working for. In this happy-go-lucky memoir – in parts true to form and content of ABP Group’s ‘unputdownable style’ - Suman takes the reader through nearly three tempestuous political decades the country went through since 1983, as seen through the prism of several watermark political assignments with which he was associated with. They were not just in Calcutta and Delhi, but dovetail other destinations as well from Jaffna to Moscow.

The militancy in Punjab, the Rajiv-Longowal accord in 1984 – Suman notes one of the key elements of that accord that Chandigarh would be the exclusive capital of Punjab is still only on paper - his palpitating crisscross with Mrs Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister when Rajiv Gandhi was being groomed as the next Congress leader, ‘Prince Charming’ Rajiv’s famous, extensive trips to Bengal in a bid to wrest power from the CPI(M) in the run-up to the 1987 Assembly polls, the dramatic rise of the Raja of Manda, V P Singh, after the 1989 Lok Sabha polls when the author dared to predict the “rout of the Congress” in the Hindi heartland of U.P., his earlier brief tete-e-tete with LTTE Chief Velupillai Prabhakaran after he managed to gain entry into the rebel stronghold of Jaffna posing as a relative of a Bengali Red Cross official, the blow-by-blow account on the fateful December 6, 1992, when the Babri Masjid was pulled down in Ayodhya, trailing Pranab Mukherjee as the ‘comeback hero’, in all these and more, Suman Chattopadhyay’s penchant for details, witty anecdotes, colourful vignettes and putting things in an overall perspective come through very delectably.

Suman also brings home revealing anecdotes of his seniors in the field, as in this case one narrated by Kewal Verma in Delhi about Bhairon Singh Kairon, former Chief Minister of Punjab, under whose tenure the Bhakra-Nangal dam project made possible the ‘Green Revolution’ in Punjab.

When charges of corruption against Kairon “rattled Jawaharlal Nehru in Delhi”, he was summoned to the capital. But before meeting the Prime Minister, he met journalists at Punjab Bhawan, where he told them in crude Punjabi, with disarming candour and a bit of disrobing action: “for heaven’s sake don’t disrupt the construction of the dam”. Kewal Varma’s way of decoding it was simple, writes Suman: “Corruption of a deliver might be condoned, but not otherwise.” It is with such peppery tales Suman deconstructs the deeper dilemmas of what was still a liberal era.

Sharing

Photos
Latest

A PHP Error was encountered

Severity: Warning

Message: file_get_contents(): http:// wrapper is disabled in the server configuration by allow_url_fopen=0

Filename: views/newsdetails.php

Line Number: 29

A PHP Error was encountered

Severity: Warning

Message: file_get_contents(http://www.indiaaffiliates.in/ads.php?size=300X250): failed to open stream: no suitable wrapper could be found

Filename: views/newsdetails.php

Line Number: 29

Opinion Poll
shambo shankara movie
Hit
Average
flop
Advertisement
advertisement
Videos