Yechury is new CPI(M) chief

Sitaram Yechury seen along with the outgoing general secretary of the party Prakash Karat at the twenty-first party congress in Visakhapatnam on Sunday. Photo: C.V.Subrahmanyam  

Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury was elected the fifth general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday after it became evident that his supporters in the newly elected Central Committee (CC) would press for a vote if Polit Bureau (PB) member S. Ramachandran Pillai’s name was proposed by outgoing general secretary Prakash Karat.

Eager to ensure a smooth transition by averting a vote, Mr. Pillai’s candidature was withdrawn paving the way for the unanimous election of the 91-member CC, after which Mr. Karat proposed Mr. Yechury for general secretary which was unanimously accepted. The new CC also elected a 16-member PB. Both bodies have a few new faces.

Three party veterans — two former Chief Ministers, V.S. Achuthanandan from Kerala and Budhhadeb Bhattacharya from West Bengal, and Nirupam Sen — have been dropped from the CC, but made special invitees. Mr. Bhattacharya and Mr. Sen, who did not attend the congress, have also been dropped from the PB, as was K. Vardha Rajan — all on account of advancing age. The four new faces in the 16-member PB are Hannan Mollah, Mohd. Salim, Subhashini Ali and G. Ramakrishnan.

Addressing the concluding session soon after, Mr. Yechury papered over differences by reiterating his commitment to “collective leadership” and said his effort would be to correct the weaknesses that may have come up or are inherent “in all of us.”

Before the issue was clinched, the divide at the top was evident in the morning as Mr. Karat and Mr. Yechury left their hotel for the makeshift red township — Samar Mukherjee Nagar. Asked whether there could be a vote for the post of general secretary, Mr. Karat said: “This does not happen in our party.” Mr. Yechury’s response was: “It is for the new CC to decide.”

Mr. Yechury’s statement was seen as an indication that neither he nor his supporters would blink. Within hours, the party’s Malayalam television channel Kairali broke the news that Mr. Pillai had withdrawn from the race just before the CC election.


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  • Elected as All India Joint Secretary of SFI in 1978 and went on to become the All India President of SFI.

  • In 1984, he was invited to the Central Committee of the CPI(M).

  • He was arrested for opposing internal emergency in 1975. He was later elected the president of JNU’s students union.

  • Elected to the Central Committee in the CPI(M) 12th Congress in 1985.

  • He was captain of the lawn tennis team in the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

  • Elected to the Central Secretariat at the 13th Congress in 1988.

  • Elected Polit Bureau member at the 14th Congress in 1992.

  • He was elected to Rajya Sabha from West Bengal in July 2005.

  • Elected the fifth general secretary at the party's 21st party Congress in Vishakapatnam on 19 April 2015.

  • Sitaram Yechury and Polit Bureau member S. Ramachandran Pillai were the frontrunners for the post.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 1:35:30 AM |

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