Monday, July 21, 2008

Somnath Chatterjee: Old man and bomb

By John Cheeran
Why has Somnath Chatterjee struck a defiant position and refused to quit as the speaker of Lok Sabha as per his party’s instructions?
Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Comrade Prakash Karat has made the party’s stand clear very early in the nuclear issue and had told Somnath to quit speaker’s post and strengthen the Left’s numbers to pull down the UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Somnath’s refusal to do so, even as of July 21, is a major embarrassment for Karat and CPI (M).
I welcome the India-US nuclear deal.
I’m not a CPI (M) member and I’m entitled to hold an independent political opinion, which comrade Karat will agree.
But Somnath was elected to Parliament on a CPI (M) ticket. He has professed to be a communist throughout his 70-plus active political career. Communists, at least in theory, do not set much store by parliamentary practices, essentially a bourgeoisie exercise. They are revolutionaries. So why has Somnath fallen in love with parliamentary frolicking?
I, however, want to state that in India, starting from A. K Gopalan, India’s first Opposition Leader, to Indrajit Gupta, communists have been nation’s finest parliamentarians both in principle and practice.
But a Parliamentarian has to listen to his Party and its position, rather than indulging in conscience somersaults.
Somnath has taken a moral high ground saying that as speaker of the house he is above party politics. I must remind him that he owes his high horse to CPI (M) and as a true parliamentarian has to acknowledge and strengthen his party’s position. The only way he can do is that by quitting as speaker.
But Somanth today does not look like a communist. Somnath comes across an old man who has been enamoured by media attention in the twilight of his political life, and taken in by delusions of playing an impartial role in Indian history.
Please not mistake Somnath Chatterjee for a rebel with a cause.
He is the self-seeking rebel not much different from Ajit Singhs of this world.
His defiant position that if he is forced to quit as speaker he will quit as MP too, shows what an honest communist he has been! He even raised the quibble that Karat is forcing communist to vote along with Hindu right wingers, Bharatiya Janata Party.
It many not be pertinent at this juncture, but Somnath’s father was one of the founding members of Hindu Maha Sabha in Kolkata.
So much for ideological purity.

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