CPM, the once powerful political force which has become electorally irrelevant, has blocked Rajya Sabha nomination of Sitaram Yechury, the General Secretary of the party, from West Bengal. This is the second time when the 17 member politburo of the party has blocked the upper house nomination of its General Secretary.
Last time, when Yechury retired from Rajya Sabha in 2017 after two terms, almost all opposition parties wanted Yechury to be reelected in the house. Congress party agreed to support the Yechury’s nomination in the upper house, however, the politburo of the party, dominated by Kerala faction and controlled by Prakash Karat- a rival of Yechury- vetoed against the nomination.
Yechury is CPM’s most popular face in the country and perhaps the only leader of the party with cross country recognition. He is well connected and recognized in political and media circles of Delhi, and is well respected too. His wife, Seema Chisti, is journalist with The Indian Express and former editor of BBC’s Delhi service.
Yechury grew up and studied in Hyderabad, was CBSE topper in Senior Secondary exam. He got Bachelors in Economics from St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and Masters and PhD in the same subject from JNU. He was active in student politics and was arrested during Emergency. Yechury was instrumental in making JNU the hub of student politics and a hub of left wing activism. The leftist political forces are so strong in JNU that, the ABVP- student wing of RSS- could not defeat the left alliance despite even today, when right wing politics is at its pinnacle.
Given the expertise of Yechury in economics, he could have led the Opposition camp in the Rajya Sabha very well and counter Modi government, given the lackluster performance of Indian economy in the last few quarters. However, by sacrificing the RS seat for ego and ideology, CPM has not only done a great damage to itself but the overall opposition.
Ignoring all these achievements of Yechury, Prakash Karat decided to shoot down his nomination, due to ego and ideology. Karat is known to be ideologically rigid and quarantined from the political realities of the country, and far away of anything close to real politick.
He played an instrumental role in the political and electoral decline of CPM and overall Left in the country. The last best performance of CPM was in 2004 when the party won 43 seats out of 69 contested and bagged 5.66 percent of total votes. It supported UPA from outside but pulled out the support in 2008 in the wake of nuclear deal, and since then, the fall of CPM has been very visible.
Pulling out of alliance was the decision of Prakash Karat who was General Secretary of the party from 2005 to 2015, and under him, the party took one disastrous decision after other. In 2009, under his leadership, the party could win only 16 seats out of 82 it contested, a decline of 27 seats. In the next general election, in 2014, the party’s tally was further reduced to 9 seats with decline of another 7 seat.
He also led the expulsion of former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee in a much publicized event in 2008, which did not go well with the people and became one of the reasons behind the fall of the party. However, despite disastrous tenure as General Secretary, Karat still controls the Kerala faction of the party and therefore de facto leader of the party too. He vacated the GS post for Yechury in 2015 who was reelected in 2018, but Karat controls and runs the party is real sense and he is hell bent to finish CPM. Like the presence of Rahul Gandhi damages the electoral prospects of Congress and is boon for BJP, so is Prakash Karat to CPM and BJP.