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Where’s the college' Don’t ask the teacher

Jangipara, April 20: A college teacher is trying to explain here why there isn’t a college in an entire constituency. Or, is he'

Sudarshan Roychowdhury is, it’s better to say, apologising for the lack of it.

“A college should have been set up here long ago. It’s embarrassing (that there is not one for a population of over two lakh),” says the new CPM candidate from Jangipara in Hooghly. Roychowdhury is repeating this at rally after rally and in every interaction with voters.

The mostly rural seat, 70 km from Calcutta, has 170,000 voters. Forty per cent of them are in the 18-30 age group.

Hundreds of students from Jangipara travel over 15 km to Haripal in Hooghly or Howrah to attend college.

Ibha Dey, the junior primary school education minister, used to represent Jangipur in the Assembly. She has been denied a ticket this year in a party swipe that saw the exit of all education-related ministers.

Roychowdhury, a West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association leader, appears unhappy over the state of affairs in higher education. “I feel embarrassed when even party supporters point out the absence of a college here, let alone the electorate,” he says, taking a break from the campaigning.

Needless to say, his “top priority” would be the college, “if voted to power”.

Dey, a Jangipara High School teacher, had won the seat twice, in 1996 and 2001.

Jangipara has over a hundred primary, 26 secondary and eight higher secondary schools, but nothing beyond.

Barnali Pal, 18, a BA stud-ent of Haripal Vivekananda College, said: “I often return home late in the night after attending college and tuition. There are hardly any buses available after 5 pm.”

Dey admitted that the col- lege is “a long-standing dem- and”. But why did she not do her bit' “The higher education department is looking into the proposal,” she said.

Roychowdhury, who will retire as professor of political science from Serampore College in July, may be having a hiccup or two, but the CPM is most likely to retain the seat. The party controls all 13 village panchayats under Jangipara.

The non-existent college is the issue here this year. It has almost put on the backburner the lack of proper roads and healthcare.

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