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Biman call to old guard to make way

- Where are young leaders? Ask CPM veterans

Krishnagar, Dec. 29: CPM state secretary Biman Bose today urged “elderly and ailing comrades” to make way for younger leaders, saying the party’s ability to organise mass movements was being affected.

“Elderly and ailing comrades are increasingly becoming a problem these days. They stand in the way of younger people joining our party. As a result, our mass movements, which were once the backbone of the CPM, are getting affected,” Bose told a seminar on Jyoti Basu’s “role in mass movement and promotion of democracy” in Krishnagar this afternoon.

Elderly CPM leaders The Telegraph spoke to said there was no option for them as the party lacked young leaders who could carry the baton.

Bose, himself 74, referred to an anecdote related to the late chief minister to buttress his point.

“In 1957, when Basu was chosen as the party’s state secretary despite being an elected member of the legislative Assembly, he urged Muzaffar Ahmed (founder member of the communist party) to relieve him of one of the responsibilities so that he could concentrate on party work. Muzaffar Ahmed did not give him the exemption, but asked Somnath Lahiri to share the party work with Basu,” Bose recalled today.

The Left Front chairman further said that party cadres should relinquish their responsibilities if they fail to perform because of failing health.

“But these days, elderly comrades don’t do that despite their physical ailments. They should learn from Basu,” Bose said, urging party cadres to realise their “limitations”.

Bose has been at the helm of the party’s state committee since 2006. He has also been steering the Left as its chairman since 1998. So are several others in the CPM who hold key posts in the organisation despite being aged. (See chart)

The CPM has over 3.5 lakh members in Bengal. About 60,000 of them are above 60, according to state secretariat member Rabin Deb.

Asked about the age factor in the party, former CPM minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah said the politburo had become “polit-buro” (made of old people). “Our politburo has virtually become a polit-buro. Those who are its members are mostly above 60,” said the CPM veteran who has of late stayed away from party meetings citing knee pain.

Bose’s comments drew flak from a section of the elderly party leaders, many of whom claimed that “despite our deteriorating health, we have been compelled to continue to work largely because of a dearth of effective young leaders”.

Raghunath Kusari, 77, who has been holding twin responsibilities as the district secretary of Calcutta committee and as member of the state committee, said: “We will have to work for the party till we die. Where are the young leaders?”