By Puneet Nicholas Yadav
Sitaram Yechury offered to resign as Prakash Karat’s Kerala faction derailed his proposal for pre-poll alliance with Congress in run up to 2019 elections
Months after ensuring that he does not get a third term in the Rajya Sabha, the Kerala faction of the CPM led by veteran Prakash Karat, on Sunday, derailed party general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s politically pragmatic proposal of entering into a pre-poll alliance with the Congress in the run up to the 2019 general election to dent BJP’s chances of retaining power at the Centre.
CPM sources, who were present at Sunday’s central committee meeting held in Kolkata, hinted that Yechury offered to resign from his post after his proposal was comprehensively rejected by his colleagues, arguing that the development would make his position as party general secretary “untenable”.
This is the second major setback for Yechury since July last year when the Prakash Karat-led faction of the party, comprising largely of comrades from the communist party’s Kerala unit and some from Bengal and Tripura, swiftly nixed the possibility of the CPM general secretary being re-nominated to the Rajya Sabha for a third consecutive term. The CPM does not offer any of its members more than two consecutive terms in Rajya Sabha. However, Yechury’s supporters had argued then that given his stature, camaraderie with leaders of other Opposition parties, brilliant oratory and firm grip on socio-political and economic issues of the country, he was the party’s best bet in the Upper House given the prevailing political situation.
If the developments in July had revealed the turmoil within a CPM that is struggling for survival ever since it lost Bengal to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, Sunday’smachinations at the central committee meeting further cemented the speculation of factional feuds between the Yechury and Karat camps.
Within the Left front, Yechury has always represented a moderate and politically pragmatic voice. He is known as a leader who is willing to engage with other ‘secular’ parties on political and economic issues which can help the CPM retain, if not expand, its dwindling support among the masses even if doing so dilutes the party’s more radical agenda. In stark contrast, the Karat-camp, which has Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan as one of its strongest backers, is known for its hardline outlook, one that is willing to sacrifice the party’s political standing in the hope of retaining its ideological identity.
It is this divide that political observers believe has led to the downfall of the Left in the past two decades. The hardliners had prevailed over the party to rob the late Jyoti Basu – then chief minister of Bengal – of the opportunity of becoming the country first Prime Minister from a Left party back in 1997 only because they didn’t favour the idea of the stalwart assuming the high office with the support of the Congress and other secular parties. That decision paved the way for Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP and the NDA coalition to come to power at the Centre. Later, in 2004, while the Left parties did give outside support to the Congress-led UPA government, Karat as general secretary was instrumental in forcing then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to face a trust vote because the CPM didn’t agree with the Centre’s decision of signing the nuclear deal with the US. While the UPA survived the trust vote and managed to retain power – with a greater strength – in the 2009 general elections, the Left was decimated in the years that followed; wiped out of Bengal as well as Kerala. The rout continued in 2014 as the BJP, led by Narendra Modi, stormed to power at the Centre while the Left continued to fight for political survival in its erstwhile bastions.
Now, as the communists struggle to come out of their political wilderness, Yechury has been hoping that a tactical alliance with the Congress could help the party regain lost ground at least in Bengal – a state currently under the firm control of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress but where the BJP is making significant in-roads; eating into the crammed Opposition space occupied by the Left and the Congress.
However, the argument of the Prakash Karat-Pinarayi Vijayan Kerala axis against a potential Left-Congress alliance is one that Yechury and his supporters have not been able to find a reply to. Karat and Vijayan draw their political strength from Kerala, where the Congress is the key rival of the ruling CPM. Karat believes that his party would lose credibility among comrades and supporters if it allies with its principle rival in Kerala at the Centre or in Bengal. Karat’s argument also holds true in Tripura where the incumbent CPM government under Manik Sarkar has hitherto had the Congress as its arch rival. The Tripura scenario may, however, change later this year when the state goes to polls as the BJP is investing heavily to make in-roads in the north-eastern state and is already in talks with smaller regional outfits for a rainbow coalition.
For the Congress, Sunday’s developments are at best a mini-setback. The CPM’s decision to not ally with the Congress won’t affect the Grand Old Party in Kerala where it already has a significant vote-base and strong grassroots leadership. In Bengal the Congress is a marginal player and still has the option of reviving its alliance with the Trinamool to keep itself relevant.
Karat’s decision may help the CPM retain Kerala for now but in the longer run, it could bring the party more harm just as his decision of pulling out of the UPA in 2008 – much against Yechury’s advice – did.
Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal moves Women’s Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha, says census, delimitation necessary
Congress MP Rajneeth Ranjan stated that they want rights, adding that women don’t want to be pitied.
Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal moved the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Addressing the house, the Union Law Minister noted that census and delimitation are necessary for the quota bill. He further expressed that the historic bill would bring equality to women.
The Union Law Minister underlined that through the Constitutional Amendment Bill, a section will be inserted in Article 330, Article 332 and Article 334. Through these, 1/3rd of the seats will be reserved in Lok Sabha and all State Assemblies of the country, he continued. Arjun Ram Meghwal further hailed that this bill is a major step ahead.
Initiating a debate on the Women’s Reservation Bill, BJP President J P Nadda praised Prime MInister Narendra Modi for the quota bill. He mentioned that the bill will strengthen women’s empowerment. The BJP President further expressed confidence that the Women’s Reservation Bill will be passed in Rajya Sabha unanimously without any obstacles.
On the other hand, debating on the historic bill, Congress MP Rajneeth Ranjan stated that they want rights, adding that women don’t want to be pitied. Referring to the name of bill, Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, the Congress MP remarked that the government should not bow down to them, but provide them equal rights and equal opportunities.
As far as reports are concerned, the Rajya Sabha will allocate seven and a half hours for the bill’s discussion and it is widely expected to receive approval in the Upper House. After the bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha, it will require the approval of the majority of state assemblies. Notably, the implementation of the historic bill will occur following a delimitation exercise based on census data completion. Reportedly, this is the seventh attempt to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Women Reservation Bill: Here’s a look at 20 states with 50% quota for women in panchayats, municipalities
At present, there are 15 lakh elected women representatives in panchayats and municipalities across the country.
Taking a significant step ahead, the Women’s Reservation Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the special session of the Parliament on Tuesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the Opposition to unanimously pass the bill, Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam. The Women’s Reservation bill was stuck for almost three decades.
While the Women’s Reservation Bill that seeks to provide a 33 per cent quota for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies remained stuck, around 20 states witnessed 50% reservations for women in local government bodies. As far as reports are concerned, at present, there are 15 lakh elected women representatives in panchayats and municipalities across the country.
States like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal have made provisions for 50% reservation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions in their respective State Panchayati Raj Acts.
Evidently, the move for reservation for women in local bodies dates back to 1992 and 1993, when the then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao reintroduced the Constitution Amendment Bills 72 and 73, which reserved one third (33%) of all seats and chairperson posts for women in rural and urban local bodies. The Bills were passed by both the houses. Earlier, in May 1989, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi introduced the Constitution Amendment Bill to provide one-third reservation for women in rural and urban local bodies. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha but failed to get passed in Rajya Sabha in September 1989.
Echoing the contribution of the aforesaid leaders in Women’s Reservation, several Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi, KC Venugopal took the credit of the bill. However, though the Women’s Reservation Bill is introduced in the Lok Sabha, the legislation will come into effect after the next delimitation exercise, which might be carried out after 2026. At present, only 14% of the members in the Indian Parliament are women.
Furthermore, it is to be noted that in 1988, the National Perspective Plan for Women recommended the provision of reservation for women at various political levels, from Panchayati Raj institutions to Parliament.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury holds Constitution of India in hand as Congress MPs enter new Parliament building | Watch
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury emphasized the importance of the old Parliament building.
Leader of Opposition in the Parliament Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury held the Constitution of India in hand as Congress MPs including Rahul Gandhi, Gaurav Gogoi entered into the new Parliament building, designated as Parliament House of India. Following the programme at Central Hall on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with other MPs moved towards the new Parliament building.
Earlier, addressing at the Central Hall, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury emphasized the importance of the old Parliament building. He expressed that he feels elevated and elated for standing in the podium that has witnessed a caravan of historical episodes and events in the midst of the galaxy of luminaries who had racked up their brains and burned the midnight oil to frame the Constitution of India.
In addition, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also questioned the timeframe that the Centre has set for the nation to turn into a developed nation. He asked why India cannot become a developed country before 2047. He also called for sustainable solutions and measures to resolve the nation’s issues.
Meanwhile, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge recalled Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech, and thanked the Prime Minister for remembering it during his opening speech on Monday. Speaking at the Central Hall, the Congress President said working together is the only way to build the country. He also remembered the contributions made by Rajendra Prasad, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, BR Ambedkar, GV Malvankar, and Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan among others.
The parliamentary proceeding will now shift from the old building to the state-of-the-art new facility. Notably, the historic shift takes place on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. On the first day of the Parliament Special Session, all members of the Parliament gathered at the old Parliament building to recall their experiences there. PM Modi also paid tribute to every brick of the old Parliament building, mentioning that it would inspire the coming generations.