Yechury takes full responsibility for CPI(M) rout, heads may roll

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took responsibility for his party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha election at the two-day-long politburo meeting that concluded on Monday, sparking speculation that he may offer to resign from the top post.

The party’s highest executive body—the Central Committee (CC)—will meet from June 7 to 9 amid speculation that heads will roll, especially in West Bengal where the party did not win a single seat for the first time.

“As the first among equals, as the general secretary of the party, I take all the responsibility for the party’s performance,” Yechury said. While he didn’t confirm if he had offered to resign, insiders said it is rare for a general secretary to take the blame for the party’s defeat, as the CPI (M) believes in collective leadership.

Yechury, keen to stitch a seat adjustment between the Congress and the Left in Bengal, faced veiled criticism from the party’s powerful Kerala lobby. According to a politburo member, the Kerala unit’s initial assessment was that while the party’s entire focus was against the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the state,Kerala voters were confused when some party leaders said that the Left was ready to support a Congress-led government at the Centre.

The Kerala state secretariat also admitted that the Left government’s stand on the Sabarimala issue also cost them the votes. In its report, the Kerala unit maintained that many of its traditional voters from the Hindu community were misled by the right-wing propaganda over Sabarimala. A senior CPI (M) leader, however, said that it couldn’t have done anything else as it was not possible for a state government to disobey the Supreme Court order.

In September 2018, the top court overturned the temple’s convention of disallowing women from the ages of 10 to 50 from entering the shrine. The ruling Left Democratic Front had said that they would ensure that the court’s order was enacted.

The party also came to the conclusion that in Bengal, a large section of its supporters shifted to the BJP. “Many of our cadres were forced to go into hiding. Their families had no other choice but to vote to the BJP as the main anti-Trinamool force,” said another leader.

Party seniors indicated that there is an urgent need to infuse fresh blood in the organisation and at the state level. There are also talks that Yechury had offered to resign but the politburo has rejected it. CPI (M) insiders feel that if Yechury has to step down then the top leadership of the West Bengal unit and Kerala CM Pinari Vijayan too, would have to quit.

“The least that can be expected is for the CPI(M) general secretary and the West Bengal leadership to step down immediately, taking responsibility for the total failure of their political line and organisational performance… A failed leadership which is hell bent on preserving their positions within the party through any means, will only stifle honest and self-critical discussions,” said economist Prasenjit Bose.

First Published:
May 27, 2019 23:11 IST

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