24 January, 2021

A Younger, Deeper Red

The old hands step down. Will the new party boss, Comrade Karat, queer the pitch for the UPA regime? Updates

Sanjoy Ghosh
A Younger, Deeper Red
As the CPI(M)'s 18th congress got under way in Delhi last week, it was increasingly clear that the time had come for a generational change. And that senior politburo member Prakash Karat, already perceived as the man at the controls, would replace veteran Harkishen Singh Surjeet as general secretary. The question is: would this alter the Left's equation with the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance?

If personality was the key to that question, then the answer is an unequivocal yes. No two men could be more different. Surjeet, more sociable peasant leader than revolutionary thinker, enjoys an excellent relationship with the Congress as also its coalition partners. He's also someone who has never stood on ceremony just to prove his seniority. A typical example: his insistence on taking the SP's Amar Singh—who wasn't invited—to Sonia Gandhi's pre-UPA dinner in the hope that the party would be accommodated in the coalition. It's a move the cerebral Karat is unlikely to emulate. Known as a party theoretician and organisational guru, Karat's introvertish charm is...


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