New Delhi: In a bid to strengthen the fight against Narendra Modi government in Parliament, the CPI(M)'s West Bengal unit is keen to nominate party general secretary Sitaram Yechury to Rajya Sabha from the state, with the help of the Congress.
Yechury had an excellent track record as a member of the Upper House of Parliament between 2005 and 2017, and the party is eager to nominate him in the Rajya Sabha elections to be held next month, state CPI(M) sources said on Monday.
In 2017, his name had cropped up for re-election. Even then Congress president Rahul Gandhi was keen on supporting his nomination from West Bengal. But the CPI(M) leadership had turned down the offer citing party rules that no member would be nominated three times in a row for the Upper House.
"Extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary measures. The country is going through an extraordinarily difficult situation and we need a strong voice in Parliament to oppose the Modi government's policies. There can be no better person than Yechury for the job. Presently discussions are on, let's see what happens," a senior CPI(M) leader told PTI.
The rule of not allowing anyone to be a member of the Rajya Sabha beyond two consecutive terms would not apply now as Yechury already got a break since 2017, he said.
According to the present strength of the CPI(M) in the state Assembly, the party cannot nominate someone on its own to the Rajya Sabha.
"We need to take the support of the Congress, which we are hopeful of getting if Yechury is our candidate," the CPI (M) leader said.
A senior state Congress leader said the party was willing to support the CPI(M) in 2017 Rajya Sabha polls had Yechury been the candidate, but the Left party itself had backed out.
"This time also, if Yechury is the candidate, we don't think we would have any problem, given the kind of equation Sitaram Yechury shares with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi," the Congress leader said.
The elections to five Rajya Sabha seats will be held in February. Presently four of these seats are held by the ruling Trinamool Congress. The fifth seat is held by Ritabrata Bandopadhyay, who was earlier elected as a CPI(M) nominee in 2014, but was expelled from the party in 2017.
Since his expulsion and post-2019 Lok Sabha polls, the CPI(M) West Bengal unit does not have any representation in either the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. This has happened for the first time since the party's inception in 1964.
According to the distribution of seats in the present state Assembly, TMC will get four Rajya Sabha seats whereas a joint candidate of the CPI(M) and Congress will win one seat.