CPM mulling over plans to make leadership young

Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) (File Image)

The CPI(M) is mulling over plans to make its leadership more young by putting an age ceiling for its leaders in committees, especially at the central and state levels, while not completely benching the "experienced" ones.

While acknowledging that the ruling BJP is making huge inroads into the youth brigade, who were once attracted the communist parties, the party feels that there is a need infuse fresh and young blood in its leadership at all levels.

The issue was raised at the three-day Central Committee, which reviewed the decisions of the party's 2015 Kolkata Plenum that included infusion of youth in party and its leadership, that ended on Friday though no final blue-print was not made.

Sources said the party is open to putting an age-limit for leaders in committees so that "fresh blood" can be infused into leadership and bring "fresh ideas" without compromising on ideology. However, one of the questions before the CPI(M) will be on how to use the leaders whose "experience" could not be ignored.

The Kolkata Plenum report had said that "ageing" of cadres is a "serious issue" and the CPI(M) was not able to attract whole-timers from students and youth while calling for a retirement policy and retirement benefits for the whole-timers worked out in each state.

On ensuring promotion of young cadres and change the ageing profile of committees, the Plenum report said, "Central and state committees should set out a criteria of average age of the committees at different levels. The other method is to ensure a quota for young cadres upto a certain age being inducted in the committees at the time of the conferences."

"We are trying to bring more youth into leadership. We are mulling options. What should be the age bar, how experienced leaders could be utilised? These are things that will be discussed threadbare by the party before arriving at a decision," a senior CPI(M) leader said.

Unofficially, the CPI(M) retires its leaders from central committee and Polit Bureau after attaining the age of 80 years. But, this is not a hard and fast rule and there are exceptions like S Ramachandran Pillai, who was retained in Polit Bureau despite crossing the 80 year mark.

West Bengal's party leadership has adopted an age bar of 75 years for being a state committee member. It also does not allow any leader who crosses 60 years to be inducted in the state committee as first time member.

The CPI(M)'s 'Review of 17th Lok Sabha Elections' report also spoke about its inability to attract youth and said its appeal among the young "continues to be restricted" and points out that the "major way to reach this youth" has been through the social media and modern technological communication tools. "Despite the record high unemployment levels, we are not able to draw youth into militant actions," the review had said.

The 2018 Hyderabad Party Congress report also gave an unimpressive story on youth front as there was "no improvement" in the age exposition of party membership in states like Karnataka. It was decided to ensure more representation for youth below 31 years in states where their representation was less than 20% of the total membership.

"In fact, there is a decline in those below 31 years like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Odisha between 2015 and 2017," the report said. On a positive note, it said Kerala with the highest membership has relative good youth representation with 23.45% being below 31 years, which is an improvement over 22.7% in 2015.

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