The Communist Party of India (CPI) on Wednesday said it would effect a change of leadership but emphasised the decision had nothing to do with the electoral debacle in the West Bengal Assembly elections and promised to launch a five-pronged campaign on people's issues against the Central government.
“Our party constitution provides that no general secretary or State secretary can continue for more than three terms. All I can tell you is that there will be a change as far as the CPI is concerned. I have completed my term. It has nothing to do with elections or taking responsibility'' party general secretary A.B. Bardhan said at a press conference held to brief on the deliberations of its two-day National Executive.
Mr. Bardhan, 86, was responding to a question on the issue of leadership change in the wake of the end of 34-year rule of the Left Front in West Bengal and taking responsibility for the electoral reverse. He said the issue of collective and individual responsibility for the defeat would be taken into account.
The CPI leader, who is serving his 4th full term, was elevated to the office midway through the term of then general secretary Indrajit Gupta, who in 1996 became the Union Home Minister in the United Front government. The change of leadership would be effected at the next party congress to be held in March/April 2012 in Patna.
The 2008 Hyderabad party congress elected S. Sudhakar Reddy as deputy general secretary. Party national secretary D. Raja said the party congress could elect the general secretary over and above the three-term limit by two-thirds majority subject to overall four-term limit in the party constitution.
As for the deliberations at the National Executive, Mr. Bardhan said the party would attack the government on five issues — price rise, food security, public distribution system, land reforms and corruption.
Criticising the move to raise prices of petrol and a possible hike in diesel prices, Mr. Bardhan said the government could not evade its responsibility. As for food security, he said that while the talk had been going on for long nothing happened on this front.
On the Planning Commission defining below poverty line as people earning Rs. 20 a day in urban areas and Rs. 15 a day in rural areas, he said it “makes a mockery of food security” and such a definition would keep a majority of people outside its ambit.
The government, he said, should bring a Bill to replace the colonial Land Acquisition Act and provide stringent conditions for land to be acquired for public purposes while saving agricultural land essential to ensure food security.