Crisis-hit Marxists now face a Rajya Sabha MP dilemma


Staff member
Dubai: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) seems to be heading from one crisis to another. After struggling to find a suitable candidate for the leader of the opposition's role in West Bengal assembly, the CPI (M) is now facing yet another dilemma.

The terms of four Left Front members of Rajya Sabha from Bengal will end next month. Of these, the CPI (M) has three and Left ally Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) has one member.

However, the CPI (M) does not have enough members in the Bengal assembly to be able to send even one party candidate to the Upper House of the parliament on its own.

In order to get a candidate elected to the Rajya Sabha from Bengal, any party needs 42 first-preference votes from the members of the legislature. But CPI (M) now has just 39 members in the assembly.

This effectively means the biggest constituent of the Left Front will have to rely on its smaller partners to get even one member elected to Rajya Sabha in August.

Second fiddle

And it is here the pitch is strange for India's largest Communist party. According to political observers in Kolkata, some Left partners like Forward Block, who have always played second fiddle to CPI (M) during 34 years of uninterrupted rule in Bengal, now see a possibility of entering into some sort of bargaining with their major Left ally.

In case there is no consensus among the Left parties, there is a possibility that a smaller Left ally like RSP or Forward Block may field a candidate — adding to CPI(M)'s embarrassment and opening the door for the ruling Trinamool Congress-Congress combine to indulge in some strategic voting.

The Trinamool Congress-Congress members may cast their second-preference votes for a candidate from a smaller Left party, thereby ensuring the defeat of the CPI (M) candidate and widening the fissure within the Left Front.

High-profile leaders

To make matters worse for CPI (M), of the three party members whose terms end next month, two are very high-profile names — Sitaram Yechuri and Brinda Karat. Both are key members of several crucial parliamentary committees.

For instance, Yechuri is a member of the joint parliamentary committee that is looking into the 2G Spectrum scam, while Karat is CPI (M)'s most prominent mascot on issues of women's empowerment and a very vocal participant in parliamentary debates on the Women's Reservation Bill.

Under the current scenario, the party is faced with a toss-up between Yechuri and Karat for re-election to Rajya Sabha.