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|General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)|
11 April 2005 – 19 April 2015
|Preceded by||Harkishan Singh Surjeet|
|Succeeded by||Sitaram Yechury|
|Born||7 February 1948|
|Political party||Communist Party of India (Marxist)|
|Residence||New Delhi, India|
Education and early career
Prakash Karat was born in Letpadan, Burma on 7 February 1948. His father worked as a clerk in the Burma Railways, where he had sought employment during the British Raj. Prakash Karat is a Malayali, as his family hailed from Elappully, Palakkad, Kerala. Prakash Karat lived in Palakkad till the age of five before returning to Burma where he lived with his family till the age of nine, when his family left Burma for good in 1957.
Karat studied in the Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School  in Chennai. On finishing school, he won the first prize in an all-India essay competition on the Tokyo Olympics. He was sent on a ten-day visit to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 as a result. He went to the Madras Christian College as an undergraduate student in economics, winning the prize for best all round student on graduation. Encouraged by the Scottish theologian Duncan B. Forrester, one of his college professors, he got a scholarship to Britain’s University of Edinburgh, for a master's degree in politics. In 1970 he received an MSc degree from the University of Edinburgh for the thesis "Language and politics in modern India". At Edinburgh he became active in student politics and met Professor Victor Kiernan, the well-known Marxist historian. His political activism began with anti-apartheid protests at the university, for which he was rusticated. The rustication was suspended on good behaviour.
Karat returned to India in 1970 and joined the premier institution, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He worked as an aide to A.K. Gopalan, the legendary communist leader from Kerala and leader of the CPI(M) group in Parliament from 1971 to 1973, while doing his Ph.D. in JNU. Karat was one of the founders of the Students Federation of India (SFI), the CPI(M)’s student wing, in Jawaharlal Nehru University. He was involved with student politics and was elected the third president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student's Union. He also became the second President of the Students Federation of India between 1974 to 1979. During this period his associates included N. Ram, later editor of The Hindu daily, the radical women's activist Mythili Sivaraman and, less closely, P. Chidambaram, who later became India's finance minister. He worked underground for one and a half years during the Emergency in India in 1975-76. He was arrested twice and spent eight days in prison.
He is married to activist-politician Brinda Karat.
After returning to India in 1970, Karat joined the Jawaharlal Nehru University and thereafter Communist Party of India (Marxist). He began working as an aide to the party leader A. K. Gopalan. He was the Secretary of the Delhi State Committee of the CPI(M) from 1982 to 1985. Prakash Karat was elected to the Central Committee of the CPI (M) in 1985 and became a member of the ‘Politburo’ in 1992. He took over as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 2005 at the 18th Congress of the Party held in Delhi.
Karat was elected to the Central Committee of the CPI (M) in 1985 and became a member of the PolitBureau in 1992. The Politburo is the key decision making wing of the party. In 2005, he was elected General Secretary.
Lok Sabha Election Results during tenure of Karat as General Secretary
|Lok Sabha||Year||Lok Sabha
|Votes||Votes %||Change in
Prakash Karat is known for taking steps far from Realpolitik. He led the CPI(M) to withdraw support from UPA government on the issue of Indo-US Nuclear deal, even siding with the BJP in the no trust motion. He led expulsion of Somnath Chatterjee when he refused to resign as Speaker of Lok Sabha. These efforts made bitterness to grow and led Congress forging alliance with TMC, arch-rival of CPI(M) in West Bengal. This coalition formation is considered as beginning of the end of the 34-year long Left Front rule in West Bengal. In Indian General Election, 2014 seats of the CPI(M) as well as the Left Front reduced drastically. In West Bengal, Left seats reduced to 15 from 35. In whole India, Lefts became 24 from 59. Under the leadership of Karat, CPI(M) suffered more losses than any gains.The CPI(M)and the Left lost West Bengal and Kerala in Vidhan Sabha elections of 2011. In the following years, CPI(M) showed no sign of improvement, they even got squeezed to only 9 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha election. Finally, Karat was succeeded by Sitaram Yechury, in 2015.
Academic and political writings
Since 1992, Karat has been on the editorial board of CPI(M)'s academic journal, The Marxist. He is also the managing director of Naya Rasta Publishers, the parent company of Leftword Books. He is the author of five books.
- Language, Nationality and Politics in India (1972)
- A World to Win—Essays on the Communist Manifesto (1999), edited
- Across Time and Continents: A tribute to Victor Kiernan (2003), edited
- Subordinate Ally: The nuclear deal and India-US strategic relations (2008)
- Politics and policies(2008)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Prakash Karat.|
- "Prakash Karat re-elected as CPI(M) general secretary". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 3 April 2008.
- Karat re-elected CPI-M general secretary Archived 19 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Prakash Karat is CPI-M general secretary
- 1969 Telangana agitation brought Sitaram Yechury to Delhi
- "Comrade Prakash Karat breaks his silence on Prakash Karat", The Indian Express, 8 Feb. 2008, http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/comrade-prakash-karat-breaks-his-silence-on-prakash-karat/270539/1
- "Star-studded 175th b'day for MCC school". The Times of India. 7 October 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
- "LS 2009 : Performance of National Parties" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- "LS 2014 : List of successful candidates" (PDF). Election Commission of India. p. 93. Retrieved 18 October 2014.