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Pathak Junior ready to fight

Siliguri, Feb. 17: The controversy over his name seems to be finally over.

Senior party members said Suraj, alias Suman Pathak, who is being inducted into electoral politics with this Assembly poll, was dropped at the last moment as a candidate for the last Lok Sabha elections on grounds that he had two names.

He, reportedly, had two marksheets of Madhyamik examination in different names from two different schools, one in Siliguri and the other in Bijanbari near Darjeeling.

A section of the Nepali-speaking CPM supporters mainly from the hills, who had vehemently opposed Mani Thapa's candidature, had proposed Pathak as the candidate. The party finally asked him to opt out to make way for Thapa, who lost the elections to Dawa Narbula of the Congress.

'Legal experts were consulted after that,' a senior party member said. 'Whatever anomaly there was has been rectified and he can now contest the polls (from Kurseong) without any legal hassles as Suraj Pathak.'

Pathak, who pointed to the party for every tricky question, said: 'It was the party's decision two years ago to make me work towards the strengthening of the organisation and not dive headlong into poll politics. After I worked hard on it, it is the party that has selected me as the candidate for the Assembly polls. There were no other issues, as far as my knowledge goes. If at all there were, the party is there to take care of it.'

Jibitesh Sarkar, the CPM state secretariat member from the district, said there would be no 'procedural' problems at all.

State urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, who is also the district convener of the CPM, was all praise for Pathak, son of veteran CPM leader Ananda Pathak. 'He is young and active and has been doing a job for the party in Kurseong,' Bhattacharya told The Telegraph from Calcutta.

That Pathak may not be able to defeat the GNLF's two-time MLA Shanta Chhetri is a near certainty, but the CPM bosses, including Bhattacharya and Sarkar hope that he will be able to give his rival a tough fight.

The 30-something Pathak began his political career with student politics. He was once the district secretary and the central committee member of the SFI. 'We will contest on ideological lines,' Pathak said, adding that he would raise questions on development and democracy.

Chhetri, who is likely to contest for the third time though the GNLF is yet to announce its list of candidates, said it did not matter who the rival candidate was. 'Pathak, whom I know, is a nice boy. I wish him luck,' she said. 'Our party is indifferent to who ever the opposition nominates.'

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