In an effort aimed at introducing a far-reaching amendment to its constitution, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) would discuss the issue of setting term-limit for those elected as secretary.

For the first time since its formation nearly five decades ago, the party would discuss the possibility of placing a three-term limit for members to serve as secretary from the local level to the central committee.

“As per the constitution, two months notice is required [to discuss] the issue. The proposal is to have maximum three terms for secretaries at all levels from the central committee to local committees. The idea is to have three terms and the normal tenure of each term is three years'' party general secretary Prakash Karat told The Hindu, ahead of the 21 party congress opening at Kozhikode in Kerala from Wednesday.

“We have been stressing on continuation of leaders, emerging after a process now we want continuity with change at all levels,” he said.

The idea of having term limit has been floating around for the past few years and it acquired some momentum after party suffered electoral reverses in the 2009 general elections. The central committee is elected at every party congress for a three-year term and one of its members elected as the general secretary.

However, after the 2008 Coimbatore congress, the CPI(M) could not hold the next edition in 2011 on account Assembly polls in West Bengal and Kerala, where Left parties occupy a prominent political space.

In the case of the Communist Party of India, its constitution has set a four-term limit and the just concluded party congress in Patna saw veteran Communist leader A.B. Bardhan stepping down as the general secretary, making way for the former MP, S. Sudhakar Reddy.

On Left unity, Mr. Karat clarified that unity should not be confused with merger of Communist parties.

He said the CPI(M), CPI, All India Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party have been cooperating to wage struggles and the effort was to broaden it by including groups and individuals who were inclined towards Left but outside a formal party platform.

Mr. Karat said the CPI(M)'s larger goal was to work to reclaim its position in West Bengal and Kerala. “We are going to take steps to recover ground in West Bengal,'' he said referring to the recent State committee meeting where the party decided to fight back to capture the political space occupied by the Trinamool Congress-Congress combine.