CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has said he would not be seeking re-election to the Rajya Sabha. His term will end in August. Yechury said on Sunday that he has taken this decision keeping in mind the party’s norms which do not allow a leader to get elected to the Rajya Sabha more than twice. “It is our party norm. So, I will not be contesting for a third term. As a party general secretary, I have to ensure that the norm is followed,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. The final decision on the matter, however, will be taken by the party, according to The Indian Express report.
According to sources in the Left party, the Congress had offered its support for the re-election of Yechury, considered as one of the effective orators from the Opposition benches in the Rajya Sabha, if the Marxist leader chooses to contest the poll from West Bengal. Handed a drubbing by its arch rival Trinamool Congress in the 2016 Assembly polls in West Bengal, the CPI(M) has only 26 MLAs — not enough to send Yechury or any of its leaders to the Rajya Sabha on its own from the state. The Congress has 44 legislators and its support can ensure Yechury gets one more term, the PTI report said. State Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had told The Indian Express that he “personally does not have any opposition” if the Congress high command decides to give up the party’s claim to a Rajya Sabha seat and back Yechury.
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One of the sources, however, said the practice of not electing a leader to the Rajya Sabha more than twice is just a norm and that the party can take a decision otherwise if needed. “The party norm aims to encourage young leaders within the party. However, it is just a norm and not something mandatory. The CPI(M) believes in collective decision-making. So, it only has to take a call in this connection,” the source added. According to The Indian Express report, A section in the party is of the view that he cannot be given an exception. Meanwhile, sources in the party indicated there is also a debate in the party on the need for revisiting it stand of no electoral understanding with the Congress.
Nine members will retire in August, six from Bengal and three from Gujarat. The Trinamool Congress has the strength to get five of its members elected.