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Party norms keep Karat safe at top

india Updated: Jun 13, 2011 00:06 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee

What helped CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat to emerge unchallenged at the central committee meeting in Hyderabad even as his party looked for reasons for its electoral debacle? The answer lies in the party’s norms and conventions, which, when summed up, go by the name ‘democratic centralism’.

“The very rules and conventions that make the CPI(M) different from other mainstream parties rule out possibilities of any rebellion (against the top leader) at the highest levels,” said a central committee member.

“We are supposed to return to our respective states on a positive note even if our workers at the grassroots are agitated and weary,” he added.

At the politburo and the two-day meeting of the CPI(M) central committee, Karat’s leadership remained intact because of the methodology the Marxists follow to run their house.

On Friday, when Karat and other members of the politburo met to set the agenda for the central committee, it was decided that all discussions on the assembly election results in the four states and Puducherry would continue simultaneously. This somehow dampened the spirit of central committee members who expected separate time slots for West Bengal, the scene of the worst debacle, and Kerala, where the Left Democratic Front did unexpectedly well even in defeat. “But the speakers were allowed to speak on all the five at random,” said a member who addressed the central committee.

The absence of former West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was felt because many had expected to share his experience. “But the rules of the party are such that even if Buddhababu was present, chances are that he would have kept silent,” said a central committee member. For, according to convention, politburo members do not speak at central committee meetings.

Though present, West Bengal state secretary Biman Bose kept silent. Thus, there was no unpleasant moment for Karat.