VISAKHAPATNAM : Suspense over the next general secretary of the CPM will end by Sunday forenoon, when the outgoing helmsman of the party, Prakash Karat, proposes the name of his successor.
Never before in the history of the CPM, formed after the 1964 split in the then Communist Party of India, has there been so much speculation on who will lead the party for the next three years. Karat has kept it a closely-guarded secret.
When Karat took over from Harkishen Singh Surjeet, it was such a foregone conclusion that there was little to write home, except the aging Papaji’s (as he was popularly known) slow walk into the sunset after playing the catalyst, in coalition formations, for a decade.
He had failed in convincing his own party’s young ideologues to let his friend and contemporary Jyoti Basu become the head of such a coalition or even, join the governments he helped form. One of the two bright young men, who famously opposed the Surjeet-Basu line, Karat, succeeded Surjeet as the CPM general secretary. The other one, Sitaram Yechury, is likely to be named by Karat as the next in line, unless the Kerala unit scuttles it, for SR Pillai, the other contender. “It’s not going to be as dramatic as you are expecting. We’ve inner party democracy and the decision will be taken in accordance with our party constitution,’’ says Yechury, the general secretary hopeful.
He would rather be called member of the outgoing Central Committee. Unable to resist a dig at opponents — well, the party congress has decided both the Congress and the BJP are so, even the regional parties are clones of the two, therefore better avoided — Yechury quips that media has no reason to worry. “It will neither be a family rule nor an RSS rule, no remote control, we have inner party democracy.’’ Asked if a person who’s an MP can also become the general secretary, he retorts, “As long as he’s a member of the CPI-M.’’
There are murmurs about this being an issue and Yechury is not just a Rajya Sabha member, but a very effective one at that, and his term is also not ending any time soon. The votes of AP, TN and Kerala may decide his fate.