Bengal CPI(M) wants Yechury as RS member for third term

Kolkata: Breaking from the party convention, the CPI(M)’s Bengal unit has decided to write to the party’s central committee seeking a third term for party general secretary Sitaram Yechury as a Rajya Sabha member.

Yechury is a two-time Rajya Sabha MP. His current tenure will end in August. As per the CPI(M) convention, a person is not sent to the Upper House of Parliament for more than two terms.

At the ongoing two-day state committee meeting of the CPI(M), the state secretary and several other senior leaders were vocal about breaking away from the convention to make way for a third term for Yechury.

“The country is going through a phase where the RSS-BJP combine is trying to divide it on religious lines. Therefore, we need someone like Yechury in Parliament who can speak for the masses and unite the secular and democratic parties. He is a seasoned parliamentarian. We want the party to make an exception and give him a third term,” a senior CPI(M) leader said on the condition of anonymity.

The CPI(M)-led Left Front has 32 MLAs in the West Bengal Assembly, the Congress has 44 and the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has 211. Though five Congress legislators and one Left legislator have switched over to the TMC, they are yet to resign as MLAs of their parent parties.

Six Rajya Sabha MPs from Bengal will retire in July. As per the strength of the parties in the Assembly, the TMC can send five MPs and Congress one to the Rajya Sabha.

Some CPI(M) leaders have, however, struck a dissenting note. They argued that the proposal to send a CPI(M) member to the Rajya Sabha meant seeking help from the Congress as the Left Party could not send a candidate to the Upper House of Parliament on its own.

“We have to depend on the Congress if we want to send someone from our party to the Rajya Sabha. But, our party line prohibits us from aligning with the Congress. Why should we seek an alignment with the Congress?,” a CPI(M) leader wondered.

Another CPI(M) state committee member said, “The decision will be taken by the central committee as it is related to the Rajya Sabha. But, if the party wants to send its own nominee to the Rajya Sabha from Bengal in future, it needs to change its approach.”

Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury had earlier said his party did not have a problem in supporting the CPI(M) if Yechury was chosen as the nominee.