|Sitaram Yechury, 56 |CPM|
USP: A blend of Marxist theory and pragmatism.
Personality: Rarely commits to anything; he prefers to "keep all options open".
Signature: Drives a grey Zen. Used to smoke four packets of Charms a day, which he gave up five years ago after a surgery.
The desk in his second-floor cabin is full of papers, the laptop is open, and his phones are constantly buzzing. Yechury’s secretary was standing in attention, taking a few calls and noting down the callers’ names.
“Naidu,” he said reluctantly, but refused to divulge who else were desperately trying to reach him. He admitted the TDP chief had already called twice in the day.
He is confident that a secular government will come to power in Delhi. He worked on Naveen Patnaik to snap ties with the BJP. And Nitish Kumar and Sharad Pawar? “Anybody willing to leave the BJP is welcome,” is all that he reveals.
His real challenge this time as the main negotiator for his party is to form a “non-Congress, non-BJP” government, which is a numerical impossibility. The CPM’s own strength is going to come down from the current 43 seats.
On the alliances that his party has entered into, he says, “By using the enemy’s contradictions, you can get an entry into new areas to increase your influence, which, otherwise, may not be possible.”
Yechury, a Politburo member of the CPM, replaced former party secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet as a negotiator after he passed away in 2008. Surjeet went out of action soon after the UPA government was installed in 2004. But Yechury shrugs off the comparison — out of humility.