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Eclipse of a deviant hardliner

Publication Date : 30-09-2012


What had seemed almost inevitable over the past few months has eventually happened in China.

Friday’s expulsion of Bo Xilai -- one of the more prominent ideologues -- from the Communist Party of  China (CPC) was perhaps the logical corollary of a series of adverse developments, the latest being the suspended death sentence awarded to his wife, Gu Kailai, for the murder of the British businessman, Neil Heywood.  The predicament of a leader, who was once eyeing the top post in the party hierarchy, deepens with the Politburo of the CPC deciding to transfer Bo’s  violations of party discipline and the evidence thereof to the judiciary.

The drastic action after a series of investigations makes it more than obvious that the consequences of his behaviour have been profound. It has been established that he abused his power, made severe mistakes and bore major responsibility in the Wang Lijun incident and what the party calls the intentional homicide case of Bogu Kailai.

In the party’s reckoning, the deviance of a hardliner -- cast in the Maoist mould -- has undermined the reputation of the party and the country, created a negative impact at home and abroad and significantly damaged the cause of the party and the people. Significant no less has been the timing of the action, barely two months before the five-yearly CPC congress that will take a call on the once-in-a-decade change of leadership. Having kept the date under wraps in the midst of the internal turmoil, the party has announced in parallel that the congress will be held on November 9, notably deferred from the October schedule. Yet the party will have to contend with the fact that the congress will be convened under a darkly controversial cloud.

The predicament of a hardliner, remarkably successful during his stint as the Governor of Chongqing, serves to expose the rift within the ruling Communist Party not the least because Bo was at one stage hoping to be the next party president. It is a measure of the severity of the action that he has been reduced to a virtual non-entity. The CPC congress is scheduled to appoint the next generation of party leaders, indeed chart out the course  for the party, critically to keep China in step with the times. Yet the congress can’t be unaware of Bo’s contribution to Chongqing, where the son of a revolutionary hero is still revered for his governance. The striking feature of the dismissal is the CPC’s firmness in its dealings with party members, its compulsion to govern the country in accordance with the law, the need for “cadre education” and its determination to confront corruption -- all so starkly different from the evolution of parties and politics and the conduct of governance in India.


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