The Big Squeeze
CPI(M) gets into austerity mode, plans to weed out non-performing full-timers
CPI(M), the fourth richest party in India with an annual income close to Rs 65 crore, is in austerity mode in West Bengal. With its funds from different sources fast drying up after consecutive electoral reverses in the 2009 parliamentary elections and the 2011 Assembly elections, the party is getting tough on non-functioning full-timers. The CPI(M) state leadership has issued instructions to all district committees to identify laggards in order to prune the list of 3,700-odd.
Full-timers get a monthly pay be- tween Rs 3,100 and Rs 4,700. Senior leaders, who are full-timers too, enjoy other perks like unlimited reimbursements of medical and telephone bills, and in most cases, chauffer-driven cars if they are leaders of the zonal and district committees. To set an example, party leaders are now travelling by car pool while attending meetings.
Nearly half of the party’s funds used to come from ‘donations’ by individuals or organisations that had an interest in the party in power. Now, the only effective source of income is the annual membership fee.
State CPI(M) Secretary Biman Bose routinely warns party district committees about the need to “adjust to the changed circumstances after the elections”. “There was a time when three comrades used to share a beedi. Now, we smoke imported cigarettes,” the 71-year-old introspected at a party function on August 5. For the record, Bose smokes Marlboros.
THE CPI(M) HAS AROUND 3,700 FULL-TIMERS IN WESTBENGALON ITS PAYROLL