Wondering what the world’s largest communist party has to say on the collapse of the world’s longest elected red rule in a state in its largest neighbour?
The Communist Party of China, which last year censored its own Premier’s speech on political reform, has curiously clammed up on the defeat of the comrades in West Bengal.
The one-party communist nation where elections are limited to grassroots experiments and online searches for ‘jasmine’ are banned, treated the news in a manner that ensured few Chinese noticed the verdict.
A Xinhua report after the results from Kolkata omitted the use of the word ‘communist’ anywhere in the copy. The day of the verdict, the state-run Chinese media issued a terse copy which avoided referring to ‘communist’ in the headline. A revised version was released late evening but finally limited to one paragraph on the People’s Daily website, the Party mouthpiece.
After I informed Chinese acquaintances of the news, they searched major Internet forums and found no buzz on West Bengal. “Fascinating!’’ said a political thinker in Beijing who had not heard of the verdict. “I think the government will downplay the news but not ban it because not too many people care what happens in an Indian province. But I personally will follow this news.’’
Despite India’s low rank in Chinese news, it is hard to believe that the news was buried in Beijing simply because it would not interest audiences on the mainland. Chinese television and newspapers doggedly report local Indian news down to the odd monkey attack report.
News of the Adarsh housing scam in Mumbai has earned fame across China. Chinese television turns to footage of Adarsh when they need to show scenes from India.
Beijing scholars have cultivated inter-party ties in West Bengal, and the rout will spark some cause consternation and scrutiny within the Party think tanks that study India.
For now, the Party is clearing the air of discord and drama ahead of its 90th anniversary on July 1. Chinese media says television stations have been ordered not to broadcast spy dramas, crime thrillers and romances from May-July to make room for Party propaganda.