Where are Dalits, Muslims in CPM?

CPI(M)’s failure to include a Dalit in its Polit Bureau during its 54 years of existence has invited charges of deliberate exclusion of a group that makes the bulk of the party, which leaders vehemently deny.

The leaders feel the reason for Dalits, youth or minorities not rising to top tyres of leadership lies in the paltry allowances, which is even lower than Rs 5,000 in some states and that too not paid in time. That is why some of them is raising the demand for a re-look at the pay structure and ensure at least the minimum wages the party demand for unskilled worker for its whole-timers.

The lower representation of these communities in the central leadership and even in Polit Bureau has come up for mention in the Hyderabad Party Congress and the Political Organisation Report castigates the state units for providing inadequate wages for whole-timers.

A senior CPI(M) leader said one could find Dalits and Muslims in leadership positions at the lower level but when it comes to top level, it becomes meagre. The leader claimed at least two-third in the leadership in lower level committees constitute Dalits and OBCs but when it comes to central leadership, it start falling.

The party leadership believes that the issue lies in the allowances it pays to the whole-timers and most of them from the Dalit or minority communities not economically well-off, they cannot become whole timers, which is a pre-requisite for rising the leadership ladder. “Are we giving them enough money to sustain? That has to change. Without this, it is difficult for an underprivileged person to rise to the top leadership level. We need to change this situation,” he said.

The issue did come in some of the speeches in Party Congress, which pointed out about the paltry salaries and non-payment for months, and the Political Organisation Report did some plain speaking. It said in some states, wages are not paid regularly and there are arrears in payment.

One of its strongest units, Kerala has decided to increase the wages from Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,500 while Maharashtra unit pays Rs 5,000.


(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on May 1, 2018)

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