THERE couldn’t be two political parties so unlike each other as the BJP and the CPI( M), yet from the goings on within both this past month, it would appear they are twins who emerged out of the same womb.
Both were disciplined, cadre based parties where once upon a time the writ from the top ran all the way down. But post the 2009 electoral drubbing, both appear to be in turmoil, riven by dissent and infighting.
The mood of despair that immediately followed the electoral debacle has turned into one of self destruction. LK Advani’s jibe about Manmohan Singh being the “ weakest ever” would suit Prakash Karat better — he is the weakest General Secretary that the CPI( M) has ever had.
Sitaram Yechury never forgoes an opportunity to take a swipe at him; Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee openly defies him; Pinarayi Vijayan, the first ever Politburo member to be charged in a corruption case, dares Karat to take action against him and VS Achuthanandan flouts party discipline on a daily basis and the General Secretary conveniently looks the other way and pretends he saw nothing, heard nothing.
Things are not very different over at the BJP where a bunch of drawing room Field Marshals have brought the party to its lowest point in nearly two decades. Its younger generation leaders are going for each other’s jugular but like the apparatchiks at AKG Bhavan, the senior- most leader has gone on a holiday, presumably hoping that the problem would vanish on its own by the time he returns. It was perhaps just a coincidence, that on the very day that the CPI( M) Politburo met in New Delhi for the first time after the elections to discuss the poll rout, the BJP’s National Council also met in the capital.
The agenda was the same — to discuss the electoral rout. But in both parties, the top leadership was scared of facing the uncomfortable truth and so decided to postpone the problem and agreed to meet again in the first week of July. Comrades and the right wingers alike have taken advantage of the long interval to beat Delhi’s scorching heat and fly off to London, Rome, Paris and other summer destinations. Once back, I can wage a bet that unlike Rahul Gandhi, they will not be embarking on Discover India tours. You are more likely to see them waxing eloquent on TV shows or flaunting their newly acquired Swiss watches at Page 3 parties.
The CPI( M) politburo will meet again in the first week of July and coincidentally, during the same weekend, the BJP National Executive is also scheduled to meet, as is the RSS Prathinidhi Sabha whose meeting is expected to review the organisation’s ties with the BJP. Karat: Weak I suspect this will be the only one where any meaningful discussion will take place. The top leaderships of the CPI( M) and the BJP will disagree on everything except finding fresh excuses to agree to meet another day.
Unfortunately, the problems have reached a stage where they cannot be pushed under the carpet for much longer. Now that the exhausting election season has passed, it is time they pondered over the leadership — or lack of it — in their parties. In both parties, the leaders should ideally step down before the next fateful election season starts. That may be the last chance.