Free Press Journal

Yechuri gets Congress help but hardliners of CPI (M) may spurn it


New Delhi : CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechuri, a JNU product, is completing his second 6-year term of the Rajya Sabha on August 18, just six days after turning 65, with no chance of winning again as his party has just 26 MLAs that are too short of victory, not even if single CPI member too votes for him.

All the same, he shall be back in the Rajya Sabha as Rahul Gandhi has conveyed to him support of 44 Congress MLAs who could have otherwise easily secured one seat for the Congress. Congress sources said Rahul was keen on Yechuri’s presence in Parliament at a time all secular forces are trying to unite against the Modi government while several opposition parties also informally requested him to get Yechuri re-elected.

Yechuri has been very effective in the issues taken up by the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. He is also popular among the opposition leaders for uniting the parties on numerous issues and as such he is looked upon for a key role in uniting all the non-BJP parties to put up a straight fight to the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress support, however, matters little to Yechuri as he faces the difficult task of winning over the hardliners to accept Rahul’s offer. He faced three possible hurdles. First is the largely honoured convention against the party general secretary becoming an MP. When he took over from Prakash Karat two years ago as the general secretary, he was already an MP.

Another hurdle is the tradition followed by the CPI(M) that none should get more than two terms in the Rajya Sabha, though no such restriction is laid down in the CPI(M) constitution. The Kerala CPI(M) is known to be against a third term to Yechuri.

The CPI(M) sources said Yechuri may succeed in overcoming these two hurdles, but he will be pinned down by the hardliners on the ideological ground adopted by the party in its 21st party congress resolution in 2015, specifically ruling out any alliance with the Congress as the party felt the Congress was singularly responsible for helping the BJP come to power by pursuing the neo-liberal policies and cover-up of corruption.

They said the Opposition wanting Yechuri on the board of the anti-BJP front counts little with the CPI(M) central committee, where the hardliners are not known to yield their ideological moorings to political expediency.

A Kolkata daily says the communist politics in West Bengal may face yet another turmoil if the central committee commits yet another “historic blunder” by keeping Yechury out of Parliament, just as it had prevented Jyoti Basu from becoming the Prime Minister in 1996.