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Marxists join power pantheon

New Delhi, Sept. 9: For the first time, erstwhile communist leaders will join the high-powered gallery of political luminaries posthumously honoured by Parliament.

Statues of three former communist parliamentarians — Bhupesh and Indrajit Gupta of the CPI and A.K. Gopalan of the CPM — will be installed inside the Parliament complex. They will join a host of Congress and socialist leaders such as Indira Gandhi, Jai Prakash Narain, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi.

The decision was taken by Parliament’s statue committee during the Congress regime under Narasimha Rao and welcomed by Left leaders.

“This is politically an important move,” said CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan.

No communist leader had found a place among significant contributors to Indian politics till now.

The three legislators left their mark in Parliament for more than three decades. Both Bhupesh Gupta and Indrajit Gupta were known for their debating and oratorial skills and had formidable reputations as Parliamentarians.

According to the statue committee’s rules, political parties have to bear the expenses of installing the statues of their respective leaders. The CPM began a fund collection drive a couple of years ago for Gopalan’s statue.

“We have collected enough money,” said CPM politburo member S.R. Pillai. The sculptor — Narayanan Master from Kannur, Kerala, already has a Gopalan statue in his repertoire.

“The work should be over in another three to four months,” said Pillai. Narayanan has already visited the site inside Parliament where the statue will be installed.

The measurements for the statues were laid down by the statue committee, which specified that each figure should be nine feet tall.

“Usually the statue would have cost us a minimum of Rs 15 lakh. But Narayanan is from our party and, therefore, he is taking only 7 lakh as his fee,” said Pillai.

The CPI, however, is still scouting for a sculptor. “There is a person in Maharashtra and we are trying to hire him,” said Bardhan. The party had earlier ran its list of sculptors in Rajasthan.

Both communist parties had raised funds for the statues from their state units, particularly West Bengal and Kerala, when they were constructing their new party headquarters in the capital. The CPI’s fund-collection drive is still on.

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