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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
New generation heads India's left
Communist party supporter in Calcutta
The Communists have forced changes on the government's economic policies
India's main Communist party has elected a new leader.

Prakash Karat has been named as general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) replacing veteran leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet.

Mr Karat said the party would continue to oppose sectarian forces and India's economic reform programme.

The CPI(M) is the third largest party in the Indian parliament and is a key ally of the country's governing Congress-led coalition.

Mr Karat's wife, Brinda, has become the first woman to be elected to the 18-member politburo, the supreme decision making authority in the party.

The party will focus its entire energies to strengthen the left and democratic forces in the country
Prakash Karat

Outgoing general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet and veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu have been retained in the politburo which has four new members.

They are the only two members of the original nine member politburo when the CPI(M) broke away from the Communist Party of India in 1964.

Future growth

Mr Karat said he was keen on making the party a major national force in Indian politics.

"The party will focus its entire energies to strengthen the left and democratic forces in the country," he said.

"We have adopted a political resolution... to continue the struggle against communal forces... intensify the struggle against the economic policies of liberalisation and privatisation," he added.

The CPI(M) has forced the Indian government to trim some of its economic reform plans, particularly plans to privatise loss-making state-owned companies.

But in what is seen by some as a shift in its policies, the party has said it will not oppose foreign investment in those sectors of the Indian economy that needs it, especially infrastructure.

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