CPI(M) caps Central Committee membership age at 75 yrs

CPI(M) caps membership age of its Central Committee at 75 years

The state committees have been given the freedom to set their own age ceiling

CPI(M) sources said there was not much resistance to the idea of reducing the age ceiling. Credit: PTI File Photo

The CPI(M) top leadership will turn younger with the party deciding to put an age ceiling at 75 years for its Central Committee members.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the CPI(M) Central Committee held between August 7 and 9 here and the proposal will now be placed before the Party Congress to be held in Kerala's Kannur next April. Unofficially, the party had earlier set 80 years as the age limit for central committee members.

"A decision has been taken to relieve those who complete 75 years from the Central Committee, which is the highest decision making body of the party. Process has been set in motion," CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told a press conference.

The state committees have been given the freedom to set their own age ceiling. 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 into the state committee as a first-time member.

Asked whether Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is the oldest in the Polit Bureau at 76 years, will be relieved from the party responsibilities, Yechury said there had been exemptions for some people earlier also. "The party will discuss how to deal with those holding positions like that of Chief Minister. In principle, the age ceiling is 75 years," Yechury said.

Read | CPI(M) Central Committee agrees to alliance with ISF

In the 2018 Party Congress in Hyderabad, S Ramachandran Pillai, who had crossed 80 years, was retained in the Polit Bureau by relaxing the norms.

CPI(M) sources said there was not much resistance to the idea of reducing the age ceiling as most of the leaders in the Central Committee felt that the leadership should reflect the age profile of people in the country.

Of the 17 members in the Polit Bureau, 11 are above 70 years, which includes two who are above 80 years. While Pillai at 83 years is the oldest, Salim is the youngest at 64. Yechury is 68-years-old while former General Secretary Prakash Karat is 73 years and another Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat is 74 years.

While reviewing the decisions of the 2015 Kolkata Plenum in a Central Committee meeting held in October 2019, the party had mulled over the proposal to put an age ceiling for its leaders in committees, especially at the central and state levels, while not completely benching the "experienced" ones.

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.

Also Read | CPI(M) to observe Independence Day in a big way for first time

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."

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

The 2018 Hyderabad Party Congress report also gave an unimpressive story on the 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 per cent 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 relatively good youth representation with 23.45 per cent being below 31 years, which is an improvement over 22.7 per cent in 2015.