Worried about losing a Rajya Sabha seat, Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Sitaram Yechury, who is set to take over the reins of the party from Prakash Karat on May 19, is likely to retain his seat, thus becoming the first MP-cum-general secretary of the party.
Sources said Yechury will continue to hold his seat, to which he has been elected from West Bengal, till his term ends in August 2016. This is Yechury’s second term in Rajya Sabha.
“If he resigns, there will be an election for the seat and Trinamool, which enjoys brute majority in Bengal assembly, will bag it easily. Why should we hand over a berth to our arch rival?” said a leader.
The Trinamool holds 191 of the 294 seats in West Bengal House and CPI(M) 38. Assembly members vote to elect Rajya Sabha MPs.
Just last month, CPI(M) lost one seat from Kerala. As three seats fell vacant, the ruling Congress won two and the CPI(M) could retain only one
The CPI(M) has just eight seats in the Rajya Sabha down from its best of 16 in 2009, while its arch rival Trinamool’s strength has gone up to 12 from a low of 1 in 2002.
The party would select its new general secretary at a time when it faces its toughest political challenge – its political clout in the Opposition sphere has shrunk and in Bengal, once considered its bastion, the party’s votebank is steadily eroding. If elected, Yechury would have the dual responsibility of reviving the party both inside and outside Parliament.
Former general secretary, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, one of Yechury’s role models, had never entered Parliament but was a key architect in cobbling the first UPA government in 2004.