V S Achuthanandan and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee two defeated chief ministers with diametrically opposed desires. One wanted to reclaim his seat in the CPM politburo and the other wanted to be excused from the high table. But in the end,the CPM top leadership was on Monday forced to keep VS out and Buddhadeb in as it succumbed to the wishes of the respective state leaderships. The party congress also re-elected Prakash Karat as the general secretary for the third term.
Factionalism in the Kerala unit reared its head once again and VS one of the founding members of the CPM who was dropped from the politburo in 2009 did not find a place in the new politburo. He will remain a member of the central committee. The partys Kerala unit,led by his rival Pinarayi Vijayan,opposed his induction into the politburo and support from Tripura CM Manik Sarkar and a couple of other politburo members could matter little.
VS appeared crestfallen and walked out of the Tagore Hall the venue of the CPMs 20th party congress which drew to a close on Monday silently,minutes after Karat gave his concluding address,and without waiting for the customary Communist Internationale to be played. He skipped the massive public meeting addressed by Karat and top leaders and left for Thiruvananthapuram making his displeasure known.
Sources said the politburo was divided on the VS question. Sarkar and some others wanted him to be inducted. Some cited his advancing age although he is fighting fit and is the Leader of Opposition. When asked about his non-induction,VS merely said he would continue to indulge in party activities like before,but all eyes are on him awaiting his next move. Sources close to him hinted that a tough decision cannot be ruled out.
As far as Buddhadeb is concerned,the party leadership went by the desire of the state unit that he should continue in the politburo and the central committee although he had requested earlier to be kept out of the bodies on health grounds. He gave the party congress a miss and has informed the leadership that it would not be possible for him to attend meetings outside Kolkata. But with the party in disarray in Bengal,the state unit wants him to continue to play the lead role as he is the popular face of the party,a view shared by a dominant section of the central leadership.
With the party congress amending the party constitution to set a three-term limit for the general secretary,this could well be the last term for Karat. There could be exceptions in rarest of rare cases as the amendment says a person who has completed three terms as general secretary can be re-elected for a fourth term if the central committee takes a decision to that effect with a three-fourth majority. But Karat has already hinted that he would step down after three terms.
The party congress elected an 87-member central committee which elected a 15-member politburo with three new faces. Leader of Opposition in Bengal Surya Kanta Mishra,CITU president A K Padmanabhan and M A Baby from Kerala. Veteran CITU leader Mohd Amin opted out because of ill-health. He will,however,be a special invitee to the central committee.
There are 13 new faces in the central committee,including two women K K Shailaja from Kerala and Rekha Goswami from
Bengal. Those who opted out of the central committee include R Umanath,who has been made a special invitee,N Varadarajan,Heman Das,Noorul Huda,Binoy Konar,V J K Nair and Kumar Shiralkar. Konar has been made chairperson of the control commission.