Prakash Karat, (born on February 7, 1948 in Letpadan, Burma is a Communist Politician in India and the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) since 2005.
Prakash Karat was born in Letpadan, Burma on February 7, 1948. His father worked 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 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, where he won the prize for the best all round student on graduation. He got a scholarship to Britain’s University of Edinburgh, for a Masters degree in politics. In 1970 he received an M.Sc. degree from Edinburgh University for the thesis “Language and politics in modern India”. It was at Edinburgh that 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 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. He worked underground for one and a half years during the Emergency in India in 1975-76. He was arrested twice and spent 8 days in prison.
Prakash Karat married Brinda Karat, then a party colleague, in 1975. Brinda worked in the Air India office in London, before she became a CPI(M) fulltime cadre. Brinda has also risen through the party ranks and is a member of the Politburo. Brinda Karat hails from the state of Bengal. The Karats have no children, by choice.
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, the legendary communist leader from Kerala. 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 Politburo in 1992. The Politburo is the key decision making wing of the party. In 2005, he was elected General Secretary, effectively the most influential position in the party structure.