VISAKHAPATNAM:As an iron-curtained politburo meeting on the penultimate day at the CPM party congress wound tortuously past midnight, an answer seemed finally at hand to the big question that had hung in the air all day - who will be the next general secretary of the party.
Officially, there was no word as the meeting will continue into Sunday and the new central committee that will formally elect the next general secretary will be in place only by Sunday morning. The tension, though not vocalised, was palpable throughout the day, with endless waves of speculation. But a tantalising glimpse of what the future may hold came earlier in the day. SRP - as S Ramachandran Pillai is called in CPM circles - wrestled down a barrage of probing questions thrown at him at a mid-afternoon interaction with some tough words. An “ability to lead the party, take up the challenge and build it around anti-feudal, anti-imperalist and anti-communal forces’’ is what the party will be looking for in the next general secretary, “not’’ necessarily “youth.”
This was said by way of a curt rebuttal to those who wanted to know whether the newly appointed state unit secretaries, mostly in their sixties and not septuagenarians like him, would prefer a younger, more agile general secretary to lead the party. The obvious reference being to the other contender to the post. While SRP is pushing 77, Sitaram Yechury, who now has a new nomenclature, SRY, matching Pillai’s, is nearly 15 years younger to him.
It did not help matters that on Saturday morning, V S Achuthanandan tapped Yechury on the shoulder and “wished’’ him ‘’success.’’