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Do have koffee with Karat

It’s pretty obvious by now that the stated reason for meeting between the UPA and the Left across a long rectangular table over biscuits and water is bogus, writes Indrajit Hazra.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2007 00:17 IST

At the risk of sounding like Ram Jethmalani on methamphetamine (is there a difference when he’s not on it, you ask?), WHAT THE HELL GOES ON IN THOSE BLOODY UPA-LEFT COMMITTEE MEETINGS, EH?! Even without having any desire to snap a nerve before dashing off a letter to the Prime Minister demanding his resignation (the high point of Jethmalani’s argument being: ‘I would have BLOODY resigned!’), I am curious to know what happens in those mysterious, closed door let’s-smile-but-not-laugh meetings.

It’s pretty obvious by now that the stated reason for meeting across a long rectangular table over biscuits and water is bogus. It’s more likely that a special session of the Opus Dei is underway than anything remotely nuclear. After all, the Left thinks the nuclear deal is a rotten idea that can appeal only to a self-humiliating bunch of catamites. On the other end, the UPA (read: Manmohan Singh, Kapil Sibal, P Chidamabaram, David Mulford, Robert Blackwill...) thinks the Left to be a bunch of neurotic rubber-suited gents who stare at the finger when one is pointing at the moon.

But enough has been written about the pros and cons of the nuclear deal. Frankly, it’s not the end of the world if the PM keeps sadly staring at the framed photo of the nuclear deal and keeps sighing heavily. After all, without the deal, we won’t not have anything that we already don’t have. (Read that sentence again, you’ll get it.) But while half the country sputters on about how weak a PM we have, and 49.99 per cent says how India’s politicians let him and the country down, I can’t but help feel a tad sad for Prakash Karat.

There he was on October 22, sitting next to Sitaram Yechury, two seats next to Ardhendu Bhushan Bardhan, smiling in a quiet way in the general direction of Manmohan, Sonia and Pranab, who may or may not have had anything to discuss apart from JK Rowling’s disclosure that Dumbledore is gay (‘So does that mean Mani Shankar is a communist?’). And still, it’s always Manmohan who’s the ‘nice guy’, Bardhan the ‘upright chap’, Sitaram the ‘affable bloke’, Lalu the ‘funny fellow’, Pawar the ‘understanding type’... while Karat’s always the Machiavellian tough nut. There he will be again on November 16, next to Yechury and Bardhan, painted as the tough guy with the hammer-and-sickle knuckle-duster who knows his hard-ball politics...

...when all he is, is a regular guy who only wants the nation to be saved from dupes like the Prime Minister. Despite Karat telling the Telegraph on Monday with a bush shirt and a shrug, “Our differing view on the agreement does not mean that we do not have respect for the Prime Minister. His integrity is unquestioned,” questioning the PM’s integrity is pretty much what it boils down to, doesn’t it? The man in the blue corner (with a blue turban) saying that to deprive the nation of the benefits of the nuclear deal is to deny the nation of prosperity across the board. And the man in the red corner (with a red flag) saying that to operationalise the deal is to turn the country into a client State of a country ruled by Bush and Winfrey.

Luckily, parliamentary democracy has come to Karat’s rescue. It turns out that with mid-term polls a possibility if Karat snaps his fingers (“We are also of the view that there should not be early elections,” the man said on Tuesday, looking innocently at his fingers), very few people in the UPA or even the Congress are raising their hands for nuclear energy and its accompanying discount coupons. And you know what parliamentary democracy is: if the majority wants Parliament to turn into a disco, by Jove, Parliament will turn into a disco! (Itchy corollary: if the majority wants Narendra Modi to remain Chief Minister, by Bajrang Bali, he will remain Chief Minister!)

So spare a thought for Karat. Call him Prakash. If we, the middle-class, can love a Manmohan Singh despite his shortcomings, why can’t we love Prakash Karat for his longcomings? Why, if you see him at the next pow-wow on November 16, you’ll see him sigh too. But then it’s a closed-door meeting. Pity.

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