India's foreign policy today is being held at ransom by India's Leftists parties who constitute the overwhelmingly predominant component of the governing Congress Party led coalition (UPA). The Leftists did not join the Government but support the Congress Government from outside. Their political support is critical to the survival of the Congress Government in power. The Leftists are aware of the power that they have over the Congress Party and unabashedly exercise it to dictate or influence the policies of the Government as per their own political agenda. They have made this mark on many of the economic policies of the Congress Government and are now extending this power to determine decisions in the foreign policy field.
The Leftists are today holding India's foreign policy to ransom and nowhere has this become more evident than in the events related to US President Bush's forthcoming visit to India in first week of March 2006. President Bush as per the original programme was scheduled to address a Joint Session of India's Parliament. It was to be a return gesture to reciprocate the honor the Bush Administration extended to India's Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who was invited to address a Joint Session of the United States Congress. India had extended the honor of addressing the Joint Session of the Parliament to former US President Clinton when he paid a visit to India in 2000. Protocol demanded that a similar honor should have been extended to President Bush during his March 2006 visit.
Further, such an honor was more well deserved in the case of President Bush as he has actively and assiduously advocated a substantial strategic partnership with India breaking new paths in critical fields like civil nuclear energy, space and defence cooperation. He further has publicly declared his intention that the United States is committed to assist India to emerge as a global power. Nowhere has he been critical in his pronouncements of India or Indian policies. Therefore there was no plausible reason why the Congress Government should have denied the honor to President Bush of addressing India's Parliament on his historic visit to India.
President Bush is being denied this honor because India's Leftists parties threatened to boycott the Joint Session of the Indian Parliament if the Congress Government was to go ahead with it. To avoid such an embarrassment the Congress Government was forced to call it off. President Bush's stature would not be lowered by not addressing India's Parliament but India's image is certainly lowered. The Congress Government's image is far more lowered in terms of being vulnerable to coercive pressures from its political partners and especially on foreign policy issues. The Leftists have not covered themselves with any glory; on the contrary it has brought on itself contempt and ridicule from all right thinking Indians who traditionally have never been discourteous to their guests.
Furthermore, President Bush is visiting India not as a guest of the Congress Government or that of the Leftists parties. He is visiting India on the invitation of the Indian State and its people. The Leftists politically represent a very small proportion of the Indian people confined to only two small corners of India's periphery. In fact the Leftists would have been peripheral to India's politics but for the Congress Government's need for their support for their own continuance in political power.
The ruling Congress Party has not shown any signs so far to call off the Leftists bluff of withdrawing their support to the Congress Government should it not pay heed to their dictates. Sooner than later it may have to draw redlines. Meanwhile the Leftists hold the Congress Government and its policies to ransom.