Speaker of the Parliament : Somnath the destroyer, Somnath the expelled, Somnath the President?

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: Communist, India, Politics |

In Indian mythology, Somnath is a name for Shiva, the destroyer of worlds. In some sectarian interpretations he is also the “original” (Adi) father of the world. Somnath Chatterjee as the speaker,  presided competently and superbly over the trust vote, which ultimately led to the triumph of the UPA. He did not allow any controversy to derail the voting process. This is in essence the destruction of the momentum being gathered by the Left+Mayavati alliance. I think Somnath’s stature as a mature and independent decision-maker has increased outside the CC and PB of the CPI(M). It is also quite possible, that Somnath Chatterjee will be the next Presidential candidate again (after his chances being scuttled the first time by the PB) indirectly and tacitly supported by both the Congress as well as the BJP.

It was almost a foregone conclusion that the dominant faction in the PB of the CPI(M) will try to expel Somnath Chatterjee. If ever the CPI(M) gets again the chance to nominate a Speaker, they will send the most unimaginative, dull and intellectually incapable member to ensure army-like discipline. Mainstream Left in the Hindi belt will almost never succeed, and the group holding a disproportionate proportion of power in the CPI(M) compared to actual representation in party membership will ultimately drag the Left movement down. If the CPI(M) wants to survive, they should take a page out of the Chinese Communist book, and dump top party leadership who fail to perform.

The CPI(M) follows a party model that developed under repressive autocratic regimes, as discussed in our previous posts, and the model almost always is in trouble within democratic systems. The seeds of this doubt and problem can even be seen as early as in Engels’ plea in favour of the “parliamentary” road (the Kautsky debate). However, the lack of grasp of political reality, as again pointed out many times in my posts, was revealed in a very obvious way in the manner in which the CPI(M) handled the whole issue of the Nuclear Deal and the trust vote.

In the Hindi belt the most enthusiastic supporters within the upcoming generations of the Leftist ideology will veer more and more towards the Naxals, and the latter’s brand of direct military or terrorist intervention in favour of “disempowered” sections will be more and more appealing towards anyone leaning towards the communist way. Such an event would be regrettable, as the previous experience with early Naxalites simply resulted in strengthening of the militant Right, and almost a decimation of an entire generation of intellect – as the state authorities specifically targeted the “brains”.

It is a turning point for the CPI(M). It has to decide quickly which way it should go – continue with unimaginative ideologues without a grasp and feel of the nation’s pulse, and risk reducing in size and influence as with so many other previous ideologues of the communist movement – or become flexible enough to rally around a much more adaptive and realistic policy. They should remember that the major successes of the world communist movements have almost always been based on practical issues – the “bread, land, peace” slogan of Lenin, or “land for the peasant, fight the bad gentry and the Japanese” slogan of Mao, and not on abstruse finer points of “the inversion of the Hegelian dialectic”. We know what happened when the communists became powerful enough to insist on “rigorous discipline” – it led to the trial and execution of Radek in Lenin’s presence, that Radek who had been instrumental in arranging for negotiations between Lenin and the German government to provide safe passage in a covered railway carriage and resources for Lenin and his followers to enter Russia from exile and take up their role in an eventual take-over of power that also ensures the closure of the Russian front. This discipline resulted in Trotsky’s murder and the infamous Moscow trials (and executions) under Vyshinsky and Yagoda – and more importantly almost the entire commanding section of the Red Army – a fact leading to the early reversals (combined with the then General Secretary Stalin’s supreme faith in his own abilities) in WWII. Communist discipline almost always appears to be a cover for incompetent paranoid leadership blues – and perhaps an awareness and jealousy of superior ability in others.

Somnath has been expelled. But it is good for Somnath’s health and the country’s as well.


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