NEW DELHI: Revolutionary fervour seems to have given way to the cold facts of life. Or it could be because full-time comrades are in short supply.
Whatever the reason, the CPI(M) has decided to give its “full-timers” the minimum wage of an “unskilled worker” across the country. The decision that it shouldn’t be less than the minimum wage in the state concerned will be taken at the party congress in Kerala in April. The CPI(M) had been talking of minimum wages ever since NREGA was launched but it has never been implemented in its true sense.
“We revise the allowances given to full timers during the party conferences every time. It is a routine procedure and it is up to the state units to decide the amount,” politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai told The Sunday Standard.
Though state units like Kerala, which is the richest party unit, have already been paying allowances much higher than the minimum wage, full-timers in other states, especially in the north, are paid a pittance in the range of `500 to Rs 1,000 per month.
“The plight of full timers in northern states is very bad. The decision to give minimum wages is a positive one,” said a central committee member. According to him, the party’s failure to grow in the northern states has got mainly to do with these aspects. “In today’s times, everyone needs some incentive,” he added.
In Kerala, party full timers get allowances to the tune of Rs 3,000 to 6,000 depending on the position they hold in the party. Moreover, the Kerala party also religiously follows the practice of providing employment to one family member of a full-timer in hospitals or banks run directly by the party. That has acted as a great incentive in retaining the younger generations belonging to the “party families”.
“The story of Kerala party is totally different. It is flooded with money and moreover it is a party which will come to power. But the story of a party worker in Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh is so different as there is not even a distant chance of us coming to power. So either the youth must look at party work as a revolutionary call or it must provide him or her some avenues of income generation,” said a central committee member.
A rough estimate is that the CPI(M) pays fixed wages monthly to nearly 25,000 activists. It is mandatory for every party member to pay an annual levy to the party depending on his or her income.