(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 27 , 2008
Trust Vote? It's A Betrayal Vote
Parliamentary democracy in independent India has reached the lowest depths of political immorality during the voting on the confidence motion moved by prime minister Manmohan Singh following the Left parties withdrawal of support to this government on the PM’s obduracy to go ahead with the India-US nuclear deal. The brazen display of currency notes amounting to crores of rupees spoke volumes of the sordid bargaining and horse-trading that happened behind the scenes to ensure the victory for the government. These images shown repeatedly to the nation on the TV screens will haunt the collective consciousness of the country for a long time to come. The PM may have won the vote, but his government has lost the trust of the nation.
By all accounts, this was no `trust’ vote at all. At best, it can be described as a `betrayal’ vote on many counts. To begin with, the vote was taken to endorse the PM’s betrayal of the assurances given to the Left parties on how the UPA government will proceed with the nuclear deal. On three specific occasions, as noted in these columns earlier, the UPA government went back on the assurances given to the Left parties. The Lok Sabha has, thus, endorsed this betrayal. Has it really done so?
If the brazen horse-trading was not indulged in, then it is clear from the figures of the MPs who have crossed over or voted against their party whip that the numbers for the ruling coalition were only 268, two short of the tally of 270 belonging to parties that issued a whip to oppose the motion, leaving aside three independents. Such political immorality constitutes yet another betrayal of the nation.
The people of this country have been betrayed on yet another score. While the run-away inflation and the relentless price rise is imposing unprecedented burdens on the common people, the UPA government instead of tackling this and spending its energies and giving some relief to the people, was completely pre-occupied with pushing ahead the India-US nuclear deal only to please the Bush administration in the USA and, thus, convert India into US imperialism’s subordinate ally. Such callousness in tackling problems faced by the people constitutes a gross betrayal of people’s interests.
This is the first time that a prime minister seeking the confidence of the Lok Sabha could not vote on a motion moved by him. This is a small point. The Indian Constitution permits a member of either House to be the prime minister. The more important point is the fact that this is the first time that the prime minister could not reply to the debate prior to the vote. Dr Manmohan Singh laid a copy of his speech on the table of the House, amidst the protests by the members against such immoral horse-trading.
In his speech, the prime minister has accused the Left parties as wanting to treat him as a `bonded slave’. Strange that it took him over four years of being the prime minister on the strength of the support of the Left parties to hurl such accusations! The PM tells us that courtesies were not shown to him when he suggested to the Left parties to allow him to complete all the negotiations and that he would come back to the parliament before finally operationalising the deal. The Left parties could not agree with this proposal for the obvious reason that once the deal is approved by the US Congress, the Indian parliament would find itself in a completely untenable situation to strike down the deal. Because, by then the deal would have had the sanction of the international community and the US Congress. For these reasons, the Left parties had always maintained that once deal is approved by the IAEA Board of Governors, then it is on an auto-pilot course of implementation. Stopping the deal, thus, required that it be stopped before the completion of the IAEA round. The Left has very openly and transparently argued its case of showing how this deal is against our national interest. The PM and the UPA may think otherwise. Then, let the people decide. A rigged majority in the Lok Sabha through brazen horse-trading can, in no way, be considered as an endorsement for the India-US nuclear deal. The UPA government has, thus, no moral authority to carry forward the deal.
For over four years, the Left parties supported this UPA government on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme. Not to anybody, but to this CMP, the PM and the UPA government should have been a `bonded slave’. Instead, many a promise made in the CMP has not been initiated. Those that have been initiated, happened with great reluctance. Only because of the pressure of the Left parties did the rural employment guarantee, forest rights for tribals, the right to information find a legal status. On each of these, the Manmohan Singh government showed a great deal of reluctance and their implementation is tardy, inadequate and mired in large-scale corruption.
If this is the state of affairs with the promises made in the CMP, what explains the desperate eagerness to rush the India-US nuclear deal, particularly when this deal does not even figure in the CMP? There can be only one explanation. Since he has chosen to describe himself as a `bonded slave’, he appears to have chosen his master as well!
There is another matter to be noted. A large number of the BJP and NDA MPs have voted in favour of the government, or, abstained. As the brazen horse-trading is utterly contemptible, so is the eager display of `availability’ of the BJP/NDA MPs. Or, is there something more than that meets the eye? Given its pro-US imperialist stand, the BJP’s opposition to this India-US deal was often seen more as posturing than real opposition. Did the BJP/NDA, therefore, turn a blind eye to allow the government to win the vote? And, in the bargain, allow some of its MPs to make money? Over a period of time, these questions will surely be answered.
The Left parties had, from July 14, launched a countrywide campaign to explain to the people the dangers inherent in this deal to India’s sovereignty and independent foreign policy apart from not solving our problems of energy augmentation. This movement will now have to be intensified in cooperation with all other non-BJP political parties who are willing to join the opposition to the India-US nuclear deal.