Sudhakar Reddy, CPI

Hyderabad: The CPI would see a change of guard next month with general secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy deciding to step down on health grounds after holding the post for more than seven years, sources in the party said.

Reddy, who assumed charge of the party’s top post on 31 March 2012, and was serving a third term scheduled to end in 2021, is firm on announcing his ‘retirement’ at the national council meeting to be held in Delhi on 20 July, the sources said.

The 77-year-old veteran communist leader “cannot travel much, has lung problems, allergy to air-conditioning and discomfort facing extreme heat and cold,” the sources said. “He (Reddy) is firm on retiring,” a senior CPI leader added.

Party national secretary D Raja, All India Trade Union Congress general secretary Amarjeet Kaur and Kerala secretary Kanam Rajendran are seen to be frontrunners to succeed Reddy, a former Lok Sabha member from Telangana.

Sources said the party’s new boss would be picked by consensus.

Raja is the senior-most in the central secretariat, a known leader but has never been a state secretary and also not contested the Lok Sabha elections.

“They (Kerala unit) are not interested, that’s the problem, we wanted them to take over,” sources said when asked about possibilities of leaders from the southern state being in the reckoning.

Some party functionaries are also pursuing with Rajendran to take over, sources said.

The CPI is the second biggest constituent in the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front government in Kerala.

“She (Kaur) is in trade union. If there is consensus, she can become the party general secretary”, sources said.

Whoever takes over would have a tough challenge to revive the fortunes of the party, which put up a dismal show in the recent Lok Sabha elections, winning only two seats.

Meanwhile, Reddy had a discussion with his CPI-M counterpart Sitaram Yechury on the issue of reunification of the Communist parties.

“Reddy discussed with Yechury, told him he should raise it in their central committee, he (Yechury) forwarded our (CPI’s) letter to their politburo,” a CPI leader said.