The Big Squeeze

CPI(M) gets into aus­ter­ity mode, plans to weed out non-per­form­ing full-timers

India Today - - NATION - By Partha Das­gupta

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.

SU­VASHISH Mul­lick/www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

THE CPI(M) HAS AROUND 3,700 FULL-TIMERS IN WESTBENGALON ITS PAY­ROLL

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