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Prakash Karat elected CPI(M) general secretary

Prakash Karat

Prakash Karat  

NEW DELHI, APRIL 11. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today unanimously elected Prakash Karat as its new general secretary and retained the outgoing general secretary, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and veteran leader, Jyoti Basu, in the Polit Bureau.

The new Polit Bureau, elected at the 18th party congress, saw the induction of four new members for the first time into the 17-member empowered body. The new members include Brinda Karat, the first woman to make it to the Polit Bureau.

The general secretary's post fell vacant after the Polit Bureau last night decided to accept Mr. Surjeet's offer to step down on account of his fragile health and advanced age. Mr. Surjeet turned 89 recently.

Disagreeing with the perception that in electing him the party had undergone a generational change, Mr. Karat, 56, told the delegates at the congress that the party did not revolve around personalities but had a collective leadership.

"Many have commented that our party is having a generational change. For us in the CPI(M), our strength is not centred on personalities. We can claim with pride since its inception in 1964 that the CPI(M) has a strong collective leadership,'' Mr. Karat said in his speech marking the conclusion of the six-day party congress.

Strong leadership

Mr. Karat said the first Polit Bureau in 1964 had nine members and of these `navratnas,' Mr. Surjeet and Mr. Basu, were present on the occasion.

Both of them had requested that their resignations from the Polit Bureau be accepted on account of age and health, but it was turned down since the leadership felt these two veterans had a lot to contribute.

"This is the leadership which built not only the CPI(M) but also the communist movement in India. As far as our party is concerned we shall continue to cherish and look to them for guidance, whatever they can contribute, given their age and health. They are our sources of strength," he said underlining that this was the essential difference between the CPI(M) and other parties.

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