THE COMMITTED COMRADE
With a degree in Economics from Delhi’s prestigious St. Stephen’s College, and a Master’s in the same subject from Jawaharlal Nehru University, jail should not have been where 23-year-old Sitaram Yechury went next.
But his political leanings were even stronger than his educational ones, leading him to join the Students Federation of India in 1974, and the Communist Party of India the very next year. The emergency led to his arrest and prevented him from completing his PhD, for which he had also enrolled in JNU. The emergency proved only the start of his love affair with politics; soon after it ended, he was elected as President of the JNU Students’ Union thrice during one year, and from there started his slow but firm ascent up the political ladder.
Today, as a senior member of the CPI(M) and the head of the party in Parliament, Yechury is one of the most respected politicians in the country, whether by allies or foes. He is a prolific writer on Leftist ideology and a frequent columnist for top dailies. Widely travelled, with a penchant for meeting and interacting with legendary world figures like Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat and Nelson Mandela, he also has the rare distinction of being a communist leader who was invited to address the British parliament as well as top British and American universities, apart from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. In recent years, he was credited with having played a key role in convincing Nepal maoists to accept Parliamentary democracy.