In pre-liberalisation India, Left parties had a well-earned reputation of being the bugbears of industrialisation. Striking work at the drop of a hammer, making unreasonable labour demands, employing violence to have their way, forcing lockouts… left-backed unions had emerged as a major stumbling block. In post-liberalisation India, the Left parties have targetted their sickles on the stock markets, on the privatisation of public sector units, on land acquisiton for dams and special economic zones, on executive salaries, on petrol and diesel prices, on the nuclear deal, and such like.
Yesterday, in an uncharacteristic outburst, finance minister P. Chidambaram lashed out at the Left, indirectly accusing them of enjoying power without responsibility, for criticising and opposing everything being done by the UPA government of Manmohan Singh, including the Rs 60,000 crore farm loan waiver. “Those who say market growth is irrelevant and those who say the growth only helps the rich are the worst enemies of the poor. It is because of the growth, the Government is able to do many development programmes,” Chidambaram had said on Saturday in Madurai.
Question: Is the Left an enemy of the poor, or is it a necessary evil, a tempering factor, in the face of rampant liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation? Is the left making friends of the poor and underprivileged by batting for them, or is it condemning them to a life in the trenches? Is the Left opposition making India a better, more conscientious country, or is it dividing the nation between them and us, the haves and havenots? Is the Left adopting double standards by cheering China for the very sins it accuses India of?
Are the Left parties which are in power in just three States, and with 60+ MPs in the Lok Sabha, holding an entire country to ransom? Or is it reminding the nation that in the midst of all the progress and development, the glitz and glamour of Incredible India, there is a need for social conscience without which Atulya Bharat will perish?