Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the new icon of leftists the world over, is not going to attend the leadership meetings of the Indian communist parties in March and April.
Although both the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) have invited Chavez to their congresses in Coimbatore in March-April and Hyderabad in March respectively, he has given a polite 'no'.
'Chavez will not attend the party congress,' CPI-M politburo member S. Ramachandra Pillai told IANS.
Other sources in the CPI-M said the party had sent an invitation to Chavez, among many world leaders in the Left camp, to attend the 19th party congress (March 29-April 2). The CPI meeting will take place March 23-27.
CPI national secretary D. Raja said: 'We have sent invitations to at least 30 communist parties of different countries and other fraternal parties. Our party meetings are always attended by delegates from many countries including Russia, Italy, Venezuela and China.'
The CPI-M has invited communist leaders from Cuba, China, Vietnam, Bolivia, France, Portugal, Spain, the US, North Korea, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
But Chavez' non-attendance is a major disappointment to comrades in the CPI and CPI-M.
One party leader said that 'it would have been great' if Chavez, whose vitriolic anti-Bush comments are a hit among leftists, could come.
'He has become the champion of anti-US struggles,' said a Left leader. Chavez once called Bush a 'devil'.
The CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front government in Kerala had also tried its best to get Chavez as the chief guest for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the world's first elected communist government in the state last year.
Chavez did visit India in 2005, during which he had donated Rs.1.1 million for the renovation of a primary school in West Bengal.