Theatre of the absurd

Theatre of the absurd

These days every one of us is busy writing the political obituary of L K Advani. In the next one or two days we may start saying the last prayers for...

These days every one of us is busy writing the political obituary of L K Advani. In the next one or two days we may start saying the last prayers for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) because there is a growing feeling that Advani and NDA are ideas whose time is over.

If it is, indeed, so, what about the Comrades? In our vast country with long borders and large population, the Communist fort, particularly of the CPI variety, is a small dot. CPI leadership is acutely aware of the party's limitations; that is why they are happy to be the appendages of a dominant party in any part of the country. For them, labels and ideologies have ceased to matter. Otherwise, the CPI would not have publicly courted the AIADMK to secure the re-election of D Raja to the Rajya Sabha.

The Tamil Raja made his debut in Parliament with the DMK's support when AIADMK was in the proverbial doghouse of Tamil Nadu. Now that Amma has pushed 'Thatha' to that privileged position, the CPI has turned to Amma. General Secretary Sudhakar Reddy, and his predecessor A B Bardhan, along with Raja, camped in Chennai in the first week of this month just to meet her as a quick follow-up to their letters which had elicited a 'non-committal' response.

They had hoped to capitalize on the rapport their local points man, D Pandian, enjoys with Jayalalithaa. On his part, Raja believed that his public worship of Amma's mentor, MGR, would tilt the scales in his favour. Raja's admiration for MGR has nothing to do with power politics. It is sincere. He holds MGR as the true messiah of the poor Dalits like him and he doesn't miss telling the uninitiated like me in the MGR phenomenon that schemes like one electric (free) bulb had brought light into not only homes but also lives of millions in the State.

"You see, when the entire bureaucracy opposed and said people will steal electricity, MGR merely said, 'I know my poor people. Even if they steal power, it will not be as high as our industries'. He (MGR) is a great man, a great visionary". Raja himself benefitted as his thatched hut in Chithathoor (near Gudiyatham in Vellore district) got the one-bulb connection. Still he didn't gravitate towards the AIADMK, and, instead, became a leading light of the All India Students' Federation (AISF) in his youth and later of the CPI itself.

So, in a manner of speaking, Jayalalithaa is justified in ignoring Raja's plea. But the snub she has administered to his seniors has few parallels. Nitish Kumar, the Bihar satrap, who never misses an opportunity to steal the secular thunder, didn't reserve such a treatment to his BJP friends in the post-NaMo phase.

The question, as of now, is how the CPI leadership could expect Jayalalithaa to welcome them with open arms. They appear to have banked on the fact that the CPI was an ally of the AIADMK before it switched loyalties to its Dravidian rival. And in their unadulterated optimism they entertained fond hopes of a second term to Raja in the Rajya Sabha.

You and I may say it was rank foolishness on their part. But politics in India is an art of the impossible. Check the track record of our comrades if you don't believe. They had no hesitation in closing ranks with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the first incarnation of the saffron party, in Bihar, for instance, when the State experimented with its first coalition government in the 1960s.

The Comrades also had no problem popping up the short- lived VP Singh experiment in Janata (Morcha) Sarkar, which Mamata 'didi' intends to revive under a new brand name by roping in the usual suspects; the TDP and the JD (U) amongst others. The secular orientation of the CPI and the CPI-M did not see any red herring when Atal-Advani combine lent their crutch to steady National Front.

Comrade Surjit Singh had conceptualised NF with some help from NTR. Years later he made NTR's son-in-law hog the limelight with the United Front while he became the geek (programmer) behind the scenes. Sonia Gandhi's UPA-1 was also a creation of Surjeet, who, as he told me once, wanted to be the Chanakya for the Chanakya from Karimnagar- Warangal but his help was not utilised fully.

The short point is politics of the impossible comes naturally to the Comrades. And by turning to Jayalalithaa for a fresh coronation of D. Raja, the Sudhakara Reddys and Bardans are true to form. Otherwise, they would not have returned to the Alnaskar's dream when the CPI has the support of 19 MLAs � 10 CPM and one All India Forward Bloc in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

Unless the AIADMK backs it, the party cannot win since a winner needs votes of 34 MLAs. The AIADMK has 151 MLAs in the 234-member Assembly and it can lift four of the six RS seats on offer from the State for which election will be held on June 27. Jayalalithaa is keen to win one more seat to be in a strong position vis-a-vis national politics. It leaves room, therefore, only for Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, a poet � journalist- politician, provided her father plays his cards well.

The CPI-M appears willing to do business with the Congress again these days. It doesn't come as a surprise. Comrades at the AK Gopalan Bhavan in Delhi see Sonia Gandhi as a lesser evil when seen from the Muzaffar Ahmed Bhawan prism at 31, Alimuddin Street in Kolkata.

Lalu Prasad will not like to see the spectre of Marxists in the UPA's back seat once again. And he will not like to give an inch to them in Bihar either. And in his inimitable style he says these red shirts are not friends in need. The reference is to the demand mounted by Comrades for his resignation after he was hit by fodder scam. Advani may say, 'we are different' (from Comrades) but does Nitish Kumar accept his word?

The writer can be reached at

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