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What IIM did not teach, Trinamul will

A political party is like any corporate entity, only more intense

Hariharan Sriram’s remark about his internship with Trinamul in the run-up to the historic 2011 election explains why three years later, 31 students of IIM Calcutta aspire to be in the party’s Lok Sabha war room ahead of a boardroom.

Like Hariharan and Mansha Tandon from the Class of 2011, only two students will be chosen to intern with Trinamul in an election year and learn lessons that no management school can perhaps teach.

Trinamul had specified that it wanted candidates from the second-year batch, but that didn’t deter 17 first-year students from applying for the two slots. A party official said the remaining 14 applicants automatically made it to the shortlist.

Rohan Gattani from Bengal, who aspires to work in the “political space” after completing his education, sees an internship with Trinamul as an opportunity to understand how things work at the ground level and what makes party workers and leaders tick.

“The country is changing. More young people are becoming part of the political space and I hope to do the same in future because you can only change the system from within the system,” Rohan said.

Sandeep Devarapalli is keen to join the civil services and thinks interning with a political party is the perfect way to get an “insider’s perspective” of how the system functions. Arushi Jain and Samprati Motghare, two other applicants, are keeping their fingers crossed about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be caught in the whirligig of a party contesting an election.

Trinamul’s Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien had announced the internship opportunity while delivering a lecture on leadership at Intaglio 2014, IIM Calcutta’s annual international B-school summit. At the end of the session, O’Brien was swamped by students eager to grab the chance.

For Koushlendra Singh, who comes from a political background, there is no better time to learn how parties work than before an election. “I think I will learn a lot (if chosen),” he said.

The 14 shortlisted applicants would need to sit for a group discussion conducted by five core members of Trinamul and then appear for a personal interview. The internship will be during the months of April and May, just before the students take up jobs.

“The interns will work on implementing the communication strategy of the party, which has already been drawn up,” O’Brien said. “We are humbled by the response and we hope to include more people from other institutes to strengthen the backroom operations of the party. We want to give them the opportunity to be a part of the festival of democracy in this country.”

Sriram, enriched by the experience of interning with Trinamul ahead of an election that ousted the Left Front after 34 years in power, had termed it “a dream come true”.

“Like in any other job, we were given deliverables to meet and there was a continuous stream of work.... So any notion, even if tiny, that politics meant free lunch was immediately discarded,” Sriram said in a note on his internship.