FIRST DAY IN OFFICE National

Yechury’s challenge is to make Left count

General secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sitaram Yechury, arrives at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Monday to take charge. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar  

After obliging journalists lined up outside his Vizag hotel room for interviews till about 1 a.m. on Sunday night, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s first day in the party headquarters in the Capital was again hijacked somewhat by journalists eager for footage from inside his new office.

He patiently obliged everyone; probably conscious of the fact that this interest would fade away soon as it has done since those UPA days when A.K.G. Bhawan was the most happening political address in town.

Of late, but for the Kerala media, not many media houses have been paying any attention to the Left parties and it is inevitable that this “new normal’’ since the 2014 Lok Sabha election debacle will return sooner rather than later under the prevailing circumstances.

To make people take note of the Left voice, again, will be one of his biggest challenges as the party struggles to remain relevant in Indian politics. He has succeeded in doing that in the Rajya Sabha but the mainstream narrative views the Left voice as obstructive and anti-development.

This concern was repeated over and over again during the six-day deliberations at the 21st Party Congress which concluded on Sunday. The central leadership, of which, he is also a part, came in for stinging criticism and the repeated use of the amendment route by delegates – some of whom even insisted on putting them to vote – was billed as a clear assertion of disgruntlement with the drift that has set in the party.

With the party already deciding to conduct an organisational plenum before the year-end, one of his first tasks will be to begin preparations for this overhaul that is being undertaken after three-and-a-half decades. In anticipation of this organisational plenum, the discussion on the Political-Organisational Report at this Congress was limited.

But a bigger challenge is just a year away: The West Bengal Assembly elections around this time next year. While Kerala will also go to the polls simultaneously, the party is a fighting unit in the State and has seen an increase in its membership unlike West Bengal which has registered a drop by 39,000.

Though the CPI(M) has been crying hoarse about the violence unleashed by the Trinamool Congress on Left cadres in West Bengal, it is still not finding much sympathy as voters have not forgotten the three decades of Left rule.

Adding to the worries is the inroads the BJP is making in the State. The BJP came third in as many as 30 of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State, and first runner-up in three. While it picked up only two seats, the 16.8 per cent vote share has put the party’s ascendancy in the 2016 Assembly elections in the realm of the possible.


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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 9:15:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/yechurys-challenge-is-to-make-left-count/article7123122.ece

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