CPM old order changes, new gen sec Sitaram Yechury talks of future

Politburo pushed for Pillai, Central Committee prevails

By: Express Web Desk Written by Ruhi Tewari | Visakhapatnam | Updated: April 20, 2015 10:14:02 am
Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat, CPI (M) Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat.

The new general secretary of the CPI(M), Sitaram Yechury, outlined the need to “strengthen the party’s capacity to intervene” as a key challenge after he was elected to the top job following days of speculation and a rare, nail-biting finish.

As the six-day party congress ended on Sunday, sources said that a consensus emerged on Yechury after the other frontrunner, S Ramachandran Pillai, withdrew from the race. Yechury, 62, is the fifth general secretary of the CPI(M), taking over from Prakash Karat who served three terms as the party head.

READ: Sitaram Yechury’s journey: From an activist to CPI(M) General Secretary

The party has never held an election for the post of general secretary, who has always been picked through consensus. This time, uncertainty lingered over the position till the very end of the 21st party congress with both Yechury and Pillai refusing to rule themselves out overtly — the party constitution provides for a secret ballot in case of voting.

READ: Vasan greets Yechury on being elected CPI(M) General Secretary

According to sources, what turned the tide in Yechury’s favour was the pressure exerted on Sunday morning by a majority of delegates on members of the party’s Central Committee (CC) from their respective states, after they realised that the politburo was tilted towards Pillai.

READ: Sitaram Yechury vs Ramachandran Pillai in race for CPM top job

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In the morning session, Karat informed the outgoing CC that the politburo on Saturday night had considered the names of Yechury and Pillai and that a  headcount favoured the latter. But then, some CC members from West Bengal are learnt to have insisted on a vote if needed, following which Karat advised Pillai to withdraw.

READ: CPM shoots down move to make party ‘younger’

Party leaders pointed out that Yechury also enjoyed the advantage of age over Pillai, who is 15 years senior. Unlike Yechury, Pillai was not fluent in  Hindi either, they added.

Speaking after the announcement, Karat said Yechury was elected “unanimously” by the new central committee after he, as outgoing general secretary, proposed Yechury’s name.

Soon after being declared the new party chief, Yechury said it was a “big responsibility” and that he would try to “correct the weaknesses” that had crept into the party.

CPM, Sitaram Yechury, Ramachandran Pillai, Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary, CPM news, India news“This congress has come at a challenging time. If I had to characterise the 21st party congress, I would say it is a congress of the future, both for the party and the country… In all our party documents, the unmistakable conclusion is that the crisis in capitalism continues to deepen internationally and there is no solution for people to emerge out of the crisis except by strengthening the struggle for socialism,” Yechury said.

“We right now have not just a government headed by communal forces but a government headed by communal forces which is aggressively pursuing neoliberal policies,” he added.

Yechury also accused the NDA government of creating a “trimurti” of imperialism, communalism and neoliberalism which had to be replaced before it gets converted to a “trishul”.

“The objective situation at the global and domestic level now is right for the advancement of people’s struggle for which we have to strengthen the subjective factor — our political and organisational capacity to intervene,” he said, adding the party now had to not only influence situations but overthrow the present class rule.

“The motto of this party congress is we will fight, and we will win,” Yechury said, adding later, “If there is any future for human civilisation, it is in socialism.”

Projecting a united front and dismissing speculation over differences within the party, especially over his election, Yechury said, “The strength of our party lies in collective functioning. That is the bedrock of our unity.”

V S is special invitee

Kerala veteran and one of the founding members of CPI(M), V S Achuthanandan, was dropped from the new 91-member central committee and included as a special invitee instead.

The 92-year-old was dropped due to the age factor, sources said, adding that the party has an unwritten rule that discourages those above 80 from being part of the central committee. Other veterans Mohammad Amin, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Nirupam Sen were also among those included as special invitees. Seventeen new faces were inducted into the panel.

Ali 2nd woman in politburo

The CPI(M) has elected a 16-member politburo with four new faces whose choice reflected the party’s desire to correct the social and gender imbalance in its leadership.

Apart from G Ramakrishnan, Hannan Mollah, Mohammad Salim and Subhashini Ali have been brought in, giving greater representation to the Muslim community — Ali is the second woman after Brinda Karat to be in the current politburo.

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