HYDERABAD: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has averted a split in the party by re-electing incumbent party general secretary Sitaram Yechury for a second term at its 22nd congress here on April 22.
A 95-member central committee elected at the congress unanimously approved the election of the 65-year-old leader. Yechury had taken over the post of the party chief from Prakash Karat in the 21st party congress held in Visakhapatnam, in 2015.
The party had earlier eased the crisis by adopting a crucial amendment to the draft political resolution accommodating the alternate line he propounded for electoral understanding with the Congress Party.
However, political observers are not expecting a smooth sail for the general secretary since the wordings in the political resolution adopted by the congresscould be interpreted either way. Differences have already come to the fore over the import of the change made in the draft political resolution.
While the Yechury camp claimed that the change assimilated the spirt of his alternate pro-Congress political line, supporters of Prakash Karat said the change won’t open the door for any kind of understanding with the Congress during the election.
Politburo member Brinda Karat said that there was no change in the political line and the party had only reworded the draft political resolution. She said there was no scope in the resolution for the party to pursue a 2016-like arrangement in West Bengal.
“The resolution accepted by the party congress does not allow any change in the political line. We fight on seats where we believe we are strong. We support other Left parties under an agreement, and on the rest of the seats we ask (voters) to vote for the candidate who can defeat the BJP,” Brinda said.
She said that the CPM was already following this tactical line and it will be continued for the next three years. She pointed out that the organisational reported approved by the congress had observed that what happened in 2016 was not in consonance with the political line adopted in the past.
However, the West Bengal unit which backed the Yechury line refuted the interpretation of Brinda. Mohammed Salim, a politburo member from the state, said the incorporation of the word “understanding” meant a substantial change in the political line.
“The entire sentence on fighting the BJP but "without having any understanding and electoral alliance with the Congress" has been deleted and replaced with "without having a political alliance with the Congress", he said wondering why the Karat camp opposed the reworked clause if it did not alter the party line.
He said that it was up to the central committee to decide how to implement the reworked clause in the resolution adding that the top party forum will take an appropriate decision at the time of elections.
Yechury will have a tough line to translate into an electoral adjustment with the congress as he does not enjoy majority in the re-elected central committee and politburo. Both the bodies are packed with Karat supporters. Central committee is the body that clears all important decisions till the next party congress in 2021.
Most of the 19 new faces inducted in the central committee have their leaning towards the Karat committee. The Kerala unit has even ousted P K Gurudasan, a lieutenant of senior leader V S Achuthananda, who backed Yechury from the central committee and brought in two new faces who toes the state line. Achuthanandan, however, will continue as a special invitee.
Yechury’s immediate challenge would be to improve CPI(M)’s tally in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and restore the party’s importance in the opposition camp. The party’s strength in the Lok Sabha had plummeted from 61 seats to just 11 sears during the stint of his predecessor.
While the party lost West Bengal during Karat’s tenure, the Yechury era saw the party losing its Tripura bastion. After being elected, Yechury told the party congress that the party’s main task would be to defeat the BJP-RSS government.
“We had a momentous congress, detailed discussions and important decisions, we have taken in this congress. If any message that should go to rank and file and our class enemy is that CPI(M) has emerged as a united party," he added.