ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Change of Guard

Can the CPI(M) meet the challenges of 21st century India?

The 21st Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)—CPI(M)—witnessed a passing of the baton, with some tension, from one general secretary to the other. Though the election of Sitaram Yechury, a member of the party’s politburo, to the top post has been described as “consensual,” there are enough indications to suggest that Yechury replacing incumbent Prakash Karat is also, to a large extent, a setback to the Karat political line which has dominated the party for about two decades or more.

It was in 1996 that Karat’s domination of the CPI(M) became evident when he marshalled support in the central committee to pull off a coup of sorts against the two stalwarts, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu, to thwart the nomination of the latter as the United Front’s prime-ministerial candidate. The CPI(M)’s decision in 2004 to lend outside support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), after the surprise defeat of the ruling National Democratic Alliance, was perhaps overdetermined by the circumstances but it was clearly Karat’s influence in the party decision-making bodies which drew the sharp Lakshman-rekha between the UPA and the CPI(M)-led Left Front.

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