One of the most recognisable faces of the CPI(M), Sitaram Yechury has the image of being a pragmatic leader unlike his predecessor Prakash Karat, who was a stickler to dogma.
An outstanding student, 62-year-old Politburo member has emerged as a leader with considerable skills of political negotiations who has friends across the spectrum.
Yechury, who was elected as the CPI(M) General Secretary at the party’s 21st Congress in Visakhapatnam on Sunday, is cast much in the mould of the late party leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet.
Yechury had learnt the ropes under Surjeet, who had played major roles in the coalition era governance first during the National Front government of V P Singh and the United Front government of 1996-97, both of which the CPI(M) had supported from outside.
Yechury further honed his skills when the Left parties backed the first UPA government often putting pressure on the Congress-led regime in policy-making.
He had also played a critical role in the talks with the government on the Indo-US nuclear deal that led to the Left parties withdrawing support to the UPA-I government because of Karat’s stubborn stand.
There are analysts who feel that the Left parties including the CPI(M) pushed themselves into a corner, from which it has not been able to recover in successive elections.
Yechury, who joined the Students Federation of India (SFI) in 1974 and became a member of the party the very next year, was arrested a few months later during the Emergency.