The media have much to thank CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat for. He can be relied on to make news with unfailing regularity. The latest thoughts of Comrade Karat on Tibet prove this. To be fair to him, he’s not one for any ambiguity. He feels that the disturbances in Tibet are being used as anti-China propaganda. Mr Karat goes a few steps further. From Coimbatore where a party congress was on, he asked whether those in favour of a free Tibet would allow a free Nagaland or a free Jammu and Kashmir. National sovereignty can’t be breached in the name of human rights, he said. He sees the nefarious Western hand in the advocacy for greater freedom for Tibet and feels that the Dalai Lama may speak to China but only within the framework of a united China.
We understand Mr Karat the partyman’s sterling ideological compulsions in upholding the Chinese viewpoint here. But we would like to also ascertain his views on Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, both of which China claims to be an integral part of its territory, a point disputed by India. In fact, the very government at the Centre that the CPI(M) supports has made it clear that it does not accept China’s repeated claims to these territories and has said so in no uncertain terms. While the party has every right to differ with the government, surely Mr Karat, as a senior member of the Indian political establishment, is expected to be a little more circumspect. His remarks on Nagaland and J&K are bound to reopen wounds especially when the greater autonomy option is still being debated, especially for the latter.
Even if we were to accept Mr Karat’s proposition that Tibet is a part of China, surely he cannot condone the extreme violence being unleashed on helpless citizens there. International protocol dictates that when civilians are being terrorised and killed, sovereignty is not shield. For a party that professes to speak for the voiceless, Mr Karat’s views are puzzling to say the least. His eloquent defence of Beijing, however, does not seem to have stopped China from being critical of India’s hosting Tibetan exiles. No argument here about that being an internal matter for India. So as Tibet continues to boil, we can expect to see more of Mr Karat putting his left foot forward.