Another year, another opportunity missed. The CPI(M) once again avoids selecting a Dalit leader in its highest decision making body Politburo, while shedding crocodile tears all the time for the “plight” of Dalits in this country. The recently concluded Party Congress of the CPI(M) was filled with Congressing, on how to ally with Congress while opposing them in Kerala. Long debates with tussles on this subject by Prakash Karat and Yechury led factions that debated endlessly on just one topic – How to ally with Congress. In the process, they gave short shrift to the Dalits and did not select even 1 Dalit leader into the 17 members Politburo.
Unlike other political parties, CPI(M) has never admitted a Dalit leader into its Politburo since its inception. India’s major parties BJP and Congress always provided space for Dalit leaders in their highest decision making bodies – the Parliamentary Board and the Working Committee respectively. Somehow due to their student days Left ideological baggage, many writers and columnists in Indian media hushed-up this aspect of CPI(M). A similar kind of Dalit uuntouchabilityis seen in many Left parties’ highest decision making bodies.
This time, there were talks about inducting A K Balan, the long time Central Committee Member and party’s Dalit face in Kerala into the Politburo. But when the list was out, he was dropped to maintain many permanent fixtures. Balan is currently a Minister and was a Member of Parliament and many times MLA and rose from the ranks of the party’s student outfit SFI. While analysing the names in the new 95 Member Central Committee and 17 members Politburo, a majority of the leaders selected or elected are from the upper castes. Barring a rare number of Muslims and some OBC communities, the majority of the CPI(M) leaders included in the higher bodies are from upper castes led by General Secretary Sitaram Yechury who hails from a Telugu Brahmin community. And the irony is this party creates brouhaha for the Dalits and people from lower strata of the society.
In the 95 member Central Committee, 14 women are selected and one post is declared as vacant meant for women. Why one is being kept vacant? Is the party facing a dearth of women leaders? Among these 14 members, two got an opportunity to Politburo – Prakash Karat’s wife Brinda Karat, who maintained her seat from 2005. It is a known secret in party circles that she created a huge ruckus to enter as the first woman in the male-centric Politburo. Subhashini Ali, who entered the Politburo in 2015 also maintained her seat this time.
The Party Congress that ended in Hyderabad devoted much of its time to make an amicable compromise between the warring Karat and Yechury factions, arguing or debating on how they should ally with Congress. In the final round, the pro-Congress Yechury won. Yechury won due to the demand for secret voting, sabotaging Karat’s demand for public voting by a show of hands. This shows that majority of the CPI(M) leaders, barring some leaders from party’s only strong hold Kerala wanted to piggy back with Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, who were rejected in 2014 Lok Sabha election for rampant corruption.
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