India's politics is at the crossroads. The government of Narendra Modi on Monday (June 20) undertook a radical liberalisation of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime by easing rules in a number of important sectors like defence, aviation and pharmaceuticals and guess what: No voice of dissent was heard from India's original Left.
The Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) criticised the move but it was more academic. The bottomline is: the current Modi Sarkar is just cruising along a highway and there is little organised resistance from any quarter. [India Inc. hails FDI reforms]
Opening up of the Indian economy is an irreversible process
The year 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of India's much talked-about economic liberalisation. In 1991, the Congress-led minority government of PV Narasimha Rao had opened the economy after decades of closed state had taken the economy close to an abyss. The steps that the NDA government took on Monday were bound happen one day for given India's huge market and a booming middle class, the process of liberalisation was always irreversible.
More than fighting for the people, the Left today is fighting within itself
But what surprises is the Left's losing steam at a time when the neo-liberal economy has spread its tentacles and there are enough issues to fight for. Today, India has been divided into many Indias because of lopsided development, rich-poor gap, exclusion of the lower strata of the society from the focus of inclusive growth but yet the Left in this country has found little ground.
It is rather now more engaged in deciding whether to remain in alliance with the Congress or not despite losing badly in the recently held Assembly election in Bengal. Serious feud has surfaced in the party but yet its leadership has no clue in deciding the route to take.
Mamata has buried the Left just as Modi has delivered a decisive knock against Congress
Narendra Modi should thank Mamata Banerjee for helping him get rid of the ideological enemies---just like the BJP can thank him for delivering a knock-out punch against its political enemy---the Congress two years ago.
Like in 2014 when the Congress suffered its worst-ever defeat in a national election, the CPI(M) also received the blow of their life---both politically and ideologically---when its determined plan to ally with the Congress, also facing an existential crisis, to topple Banerjee backfired. The CPI(M) seems to be unable to apply the brakes since then as it is polarised over what political line to follow.
The suicide it committed by joining hands with the Congress---its ideological enemy since its birth in the 1960s---has not just reduced its credibility but also put its dwarf leadership in a serious battle for existence.
The communists' victory in Kerala in this year's election has also made the internal spat wide, which means the party has now little to think about ideological issues of opposing cent per cent FDI as has been backed by the Modi regime. The CPI(M)'s ideological stand is indeed difficult to assess.
Left's strange ideological stand
In 2008, the party had expelled the then speaker Somnath Chatterjee for not abiding by the party's stand in the nuclear agreement with the US; in 2016, it expelled senior Central Commitee member Jagmati Sangwan who had been critical of the party's joining hands with the Congress for the Bengal polls. True consistency indeed!
Left's time has ended and space hijacked
The Left in India has two big problems. One, by refusing to change with times and embracing stagnancy, it has allowed its political space to be hijacked by leaders like Banerjee, Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal, who have emerged as populist leaders with a Left touch in their politics.
The second has been their laziness and lack of ground contact. Even after Banerjee started making serious intrusion into its bastion in Bengal, the Left remained complacent and went on to lose the biggest battle in 2011 when they lost the power. But there has been no renewed effort at any quarter by the party to regain its lost ground. Its old leaders have spoken a lot about their "well intention" but the time and space have just deserted the Left.
The only way the Left can now aspire to return to the ring is by taking up issues of the India which has fallen behind in this age of one-way economy. But it seems they just don't have it in them to begin afresh.