Poll drubbing: Yechury doesn't rule out change of leadership

Poll drubbing: Yechury doesn't rule out change of leadership

In an interview with Karan Thapar in the 'India Tonight' programme of CNBC-TV18, senior party Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said the exercise of introspection is underway but whether that will lead to a leadership change will be decided by the party Central Committee (CC) which is meeting in June.

He also acknowledged that the withdrawal of Left support to UPA-I had a "collateral damage" as it created a strong opposition alliance in Bengal but insisted "we had no option".

Asked if someone should take responsibility for the recent poll performance which have left CPI(M) with lowest tally ever either in Parliament or assemblies, he said "it is a question of owning up responsibility for what went wrong and we are in the midst of that exercise...Owning of responsibility has to be collectively done by the leadership".

On if the same leadership under which the debacle took place can probe the causes or whether the Central Committee can bring in "new people", Yechury said, "First thing the Central Committee will do is to begin process of introspection of what went wrong with the same existing leadership.

"As a consequence of that exercise what happens is a different thing... nobody can say now. This exercise is underway and let us see where it reaches."

He said the party Congress is likely to take place at the end of this year. On whether a change of leadership can be brought in there if the Central Committee so decides, he said, "Yes, but all these depends on CC deliberations."

Probed further if it does mean that CPI(M) may see a change of leadership by year-end, Yechury said "I am not saying this, don't put words in my mouth...there are possibilities like this in any situation." He also said "going by our records", the questions are likely to be "resolved" rather than the CC asking the leadership to step aside.

Yechury said in Bengal, CPI(M) got 41 per cent of votes which is more than what the governments in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh or Bihar have but accepted that a definite "element of alienation" and "certain element of anger" worked behind the defeat.

Yechury admitted that most of the new voters in Bengal went towards Trinamool Congress.

"Much increase in the electorate consisted of those who have born been after Left came to power. In a democracy, there needs to be a change. And this slogan of change became attractive for them because they have never seen a change and wanted to see an alternative."

He said the handling of land acquisition in Singur was done without a proper "homework" as after the huge victory in 2006 on the plank of industrialisation, the party and the government in Bengal had a "wrong presumption" that people "are in sink" with the Left's understanding on the issue.

Yechury accepted that the Left's break with UPA-I on the issue of Indo-US nuclear deal led to alliance of Congress and Trinamool and change of opposition unity index from "very weak" in 2006 to "very strong" in 2011.

"This in international parlance is called collateral damage. There was no option for us but to withdraw support but that created this opposition unity...but the break had more to do with UPA than Left," he said.

On the image of "arrogant cadre" in Bengal, he said, "By the time you evaluate whether some person is fulfilling his commitment to serve people or using wrong methods and take action, some damage is already done. That is a real problem."

Quried if Left identified some such people abusing positions and took action which made them turn bitter and vote against them, he said "that is also one element".

He also said, "The battle which is taking place now in rural Bengal is efforts by erstwhile landlords who lost their land because of land reforms."

On Kerala and handling of candidature of V S Achuthanandan, Yechury acknowledged that the internal state confabulations on party list playing out in media were "unfortunate and created a lot of confusion".

He also said that party publicly expressed concerns over the divisions within the party rank there and tackled it and the "situation is now much better."