Ending the 10-year-long Prakash Karat era in the CPI(M), the country’s biggest communist party will pick its next general secretary on Sunday in the most challenging times for Left politics, on the last day of the Party Congress in Visakhapatnam.
Even as Sitaram Yechury, 62, the widely accepted face of the Left, is seen as the choice of the West Bengal and Tripura units, many feel S Ramachandran Pillai, 77, may emerge as a dark horse.
On Saturday, party veteran VS Achuthanandan, who may be dropped from the central committee on disciplinary ground, surprised many when he greeted Yechury and said, “Best wishes for your success.” A cautious Yechury replied, “We all hope for the party’s success.”
Yechury, a Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal, has age on his side, being junior to outgoing Karat. He is also seen as a moderate communist who enjoys a good rapport with leaders across parties. On the other hand, Pillai had come to Delhi after working in different capacities in the party. He was also in-charge of Bihar and is thus said to have hands-on experience of lack of growth there.
Pillai, who presented the draft political resolution at the Party Congress, faced a barrage of questions on Saturday about his chances of becoming the general secretary but remained evasive.
“Whoever becomes the general secretary will probably have the toughest assignment. We need a revival in West Bengal, our bastion. There is also a desperate need to expand in other states,” said a senior leader.
Veteran communist and farmer’s cell head Hannan Mollah may be inducted in the politburo amid a renewed thrust on farmers’ issues. Former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and ex-industry minister Nirupam Sen will bow out of the politburo on health grounds.