Pioneer News Service | New Delhi
Muslim scholars and Left wing intellectuals are upset over the CPI(M)'s attempts to 'communalise' the India-US nuclear deal issue.
While the Government was battling to survive the crisis following the stand-off between the Congress and its Left allies, a CPI(M) Politburo member had warned the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Monday about a backlash from Muslims if the SP supported the deal.
"The deal has nothing to do with the Muslim or Hindu backlash. One should only look at it in national interest," Siddiquallah Choudhary, secretary of Jamiat-Ulama-e-Hind, told The Pioneer. He claimed that the CPM, which was in a shambles in West Bengal, was trying to divert the attention of the community members from their plight.
On Tuesday, CPI(M) Politburo member M K Pandhe declared that the party's opposition to the nuclear deal with the US was "non-negotiable" and warned the Samajwadi Party, which had looked inclined to support the deal, of a Muslim backlash if it dropped its opposition to the agreement with the US.
Another Muslim intellectual believes that it was wrong on the part of the CPM to terrorise other political parties in the name of a religion just to achieve their target, which may not be in the nation's interest. He feared that the CPI(M) statement would set a wrong example and communalise the politics of a country that has remained democratic.
"Our opposition to the deal notwithstanding, he (Pandhe) should not have linked it to a backlash by the Muslims. I doubt whether the other parties trusted by the Muslims feel in a similar fashion. We should not take such suicidal steps," a Muslim CPM leader said. He feared that such statements might boomerang on the party's face and deal a severe blow to its electoral prospects. Throughout the day, the CPM remained tightlipped and did not offer any explanation or contradiction to its "Muslim backlash" comment.
The Times of India made the following editorial comment on the issue:
25 Jun 2008
The Left - the CPM in particular - has always portrayed itself as the standard bearer of Indian secularism. M K Pandhe, a CPM politburo member and chief of the party's trade union wing, has now showed up the Left's double standards.
Pandhe has warned the Samajwadi Party that it could lose its Muslim support base if it backed the UPA government on the Indo-US nuclear deal. He said Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav should think twice before going with the UPA government on the deal because "an overwhelming majority of the Muslim masses are against it".
Pandhe's statement confirms what some people have suspected. Though the CPM might publicly profess to be secular, it is as susceptible as the BJP or the Samajwadi Party to the temptation of communal politics.
Irrespective of the merits of whether a majority of India's Muslims are against the nuclear deal - which no survey has yet established - Pandhe has made the worst sort of generalisation about Indian Muslims.
First, he assumes that an Indian Muslim's primary identification is with religion. Second, he believes that all Indian Muslims think alike regardless of their social, economic and regional backgrounds. Even Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh has reacted with disdain at the CPM's suggestions about its minority support by calling Pandhe's statement "very unfortunate".
Pandhe's statement is an endorsement of holding India's foreign policy hostage to communal politics. This is unacceptable. If the CPM and other Left parties believe - mistakenly in our opinion - that the nuclear deal pushes New Delhi into an irrevocable embrace with Washington, that is understandable given the CPM's ideology.
But making foreign policy dependent on electoral ambition built on communal compulsions is making a mockery of India's international standing.
India will become a laughing stock if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tells world leaders at the coming G8 summit in early July that the government still hasn't been able to build a consensus on the nuclear deal.
The Congress must convince its UPA allies - such as Sharad Pawar, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan - to at least back it in negotiating an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA. India would have little to do with the next step, which is getting a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
It would then be up to Washington to push the deal through the NSG and get an approval from the US Congress.
To expect that the leader of the world's largest democracy could tell the G8 that he had promised the Indian Left he wouldn't sign a deal with the Americans but would like it to be cleared by the NSG, is to live in a fool's paradise.
Source: The Pioneer, Delhi