Sitaram Yechury Elected CPM Chief After Veteran Leader Withdraws From Race

Sitaram Yechury (left) with Prakash Karat at the CPM party congress in Visakhapatnam. (Press Trust of India)

Visakhapatnam: Sitaram Yechury has been unanimously elected the new general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). His name was proposed for the post by outgoing party chief Prakash Karat and veteran S Ramachandran Pillai, who had initially been in the race for the post.

The newly-elected chief told NDTV the party will make a turnaround. "Our connect with the people has to become much stronger. We're aiming for a comeback... but definitely a turnaround," Mr Yechury said.

The official announcement of the leadership change in the CPI (M) came towards the end of the six-day party congress at Visakhapatnam today. Sitaram Yechury takes over the reins of the party from Prakash Karat, who has completed three terms as general secretary of the party.

The CPM also named a new Central Committee, its highest executive body, of 91 members, besides naming five special invitees and five permanent invitees, which then elected Mr Yechury.

The new general secretary then introduced a 16-member Politburo featuring four new entrants - Mohammed Saleem, Subhasini Ali, Hannan Mollah and G Ramakrishnan. CPM founding member VS Achuthanandan, 91, has been named a permanent invitee to the Central Committee on account of his age.

Mr Yechury's name had been proposed after party stalwart S Ramachandra Pillai decided to withdraw from the race for the general secretary's post. Mr Yechury had received support from the party unit from West Bengal, which he represents in the Rajya Sabha.

Mr Pillai had received the support of the Kerala unit of the party, led by powerful satrap Pinarayi Vijayan.

Mr Yechury's backers had argued that at 62, younger than Mr Pillai by 15 years, he would hold appeal for sections beyond the party's traditional base, especially the youth. Other things in his favour included his high profile in public and in the Rajya Sabha. Also, like his mentor, the stalwart Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Mr Yechury shares a good rapport with parties from across the political spectrum.
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