Vantage point

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Commie Dramas

If you are competing in a race, there are two ways of winning. Either you make sure you are faster relative to your competition. Or then you ensure your competition is slower than you.

When the competition is for FDI, these two ways translate as follows. You either improve your infrastructure, offer investors cheap land, tax benefits, labour flexibility, etc to make your territory attractive. Or you sabotage your competitor's infrastructure to make your modest one look better.

A prime example of the latter is the attitude of the Indian Leftists towards airport privatisation. When it was the question of privatising Delhi and Mumbai airports, the Left screamed bloody murder and caused a strike. Some clueless columnists were tricked by the Left into believing that a fear of job losses was driving the strike. But a day later, after thousands of innocent passengers had been inconvenienced, it was clarified that job losses was never an issue. The demand of the AAI was that it should be handed the contract for modernising the airports. No competitive bidding, tender opening, anything. Just hand them over to the AAI, which has been making a hash of our airports for decades.

But now when it comes to their own territory, i.e Kolkata, the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya wants privatisation. He is of course, playing the role of the "pragmatic" communist pretending to represent a new-wave in Indian communism. And of course, most are being fooled by it. This whole game of difference of opinion between the hardcore-red commies like Karat-Basu-Yechury and the "pragmatic" Buddha-Bhatta is as genuine as the kayfabe enmity between babyfaces and heels in WWE wrestling. Carefully scripted and meticulously executed.

So Kolkata will see airport privatisation and other improvements to help it attract investment. While privatisation in Mumbai and Delhi will be opposed under some ridiculous pretext.

That's the way the CPI(M) wants to win the race.