Kolkata: The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, on Thursday allowed former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to step down from the state committee, and revamped the panel by dropping several other senior leaders.

A decision to this effect was taken during the three-day state conference in an attempt to infuse young blood into the committee, said Surjya Kanta Mishra, CPM’s state secretary for West Bengal.

Twenty senior leaders were dropped from the state committee. The average age of the 80-odd committee members was a little over 60 years at the time of the last conference in 2015. The average age had to be brought down by three years, he said.

Former West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Former West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

For years now, Bhattacharjee has distanced himself from party activities due to poor health. Still, he continued to be part of the state committee and the state secretariat, and campaigned for the party during key elections.

Bhattacharjee, along with other senior leaders such as Asim Dasgupta, Madan Ghosh and Shyamal Chakraborty, is to step down from both. The state secretariat, too, is to be revamped, but only after the CPM party congress, which is to be held later this month.

An age ceiling of 75 years has been introduced for the state committee, but an exception was made for Left Front chairman and CPM politburo member Biman Bose, 77, who has been retained in the committee and the secretariat because he was widely seen to be “younger than the young", Mishra said.

Former West Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Former West Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Bose had offered to step down, according to Mishra.

For decades, senior leaders in the party held key positions at different levels, said two leaders, asking not to be named. However, since the CPM was ousted from power in West Bengal in 2011, these leaders were facing disquiet within the party. Faced with routs in election after election, it is only now that the party is trying to replace ageing leaders with younger people, the leaders said.

The CPM is struggling to attract young supporters in West Bengal. According to the party’s own estimates, close to 60% of its members in Kolkata district are aged above 50. The same is true for the neighbouring North 24 Parganas district, where it has a larger following.

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