PC Sorcar. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta, March 1: The other candidates in Barasat need not contest under the constant fear of being made to vanish. P.C. Sorcar Jr will wave the magic wand only “after” the elections.
“Tell me, if Uday Shankar were to contest the polls, would he go around dancing in every para? There will surely be magic shows, after I win,” Sorcar, the BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate for Barasat, told The Telegraph late last night.
Sinking into an armchair in his newly built, palatial home, named Joysri Mansion after his wife, the magician said: “Proshner chotey BJP hoye gelam (the pressure of people’s queries made me join the BJP).”
Barely three weeks ago, Sorcar had been spotted on the stage at Narendra Modi’s Brigade rally. That evening, he had clarified to this newspaper that he had not joined the party but had gone as a voter to judge a prime ministerial candidate from up close.
“But since that day, people started presuming that I had joined the BJP. I grew tired trying to explain that I had not. Finally, ‘yes’ seemed a shorter answer to give,” Sorcar shrugged. He gave his consent to the party on Thursday.
The same night, the Bengal BJP named him on its first list of 17 candidates.
The Sorcars had been away in Assam for a string of shows. “Within hours of our landing at Dum Dum (on Thursday) on a two-day break, state BJP leaders came to my home.”
The meeting began at 7.30pm. “As soon as I said ‘yes’ to contesting, I got a call from the RSS leadership. It was so immediate that it seemed as though the caller had been overhearing the conversation over the phone!” Sorcar said.
“And when I was seeing them off, a friend called to congratulate me. The news of me contesting from Barasat, he said, was flashing on ABP Ananda. Ora sotyi amay magic dekhiechhey (they really pulled off a magic trick).”
He said he had been offered a choice of seats. “They mentioned Dum Dum, Krishnagar, Basirhat.... But when I perform on stage, I do not bother about who comes from where in the audience. We finally chose Barasat because, since it extends till Salt Lake, it is the closest to my home (near Ruby Hospital).”
Sorcar has pleasant memories of Barasat, having performed there a few months ago. “I got great vibes from the people. Barasat is a key constituency, with the potential to attract industry of various kinds — IT to entertainment.”
But can he rid the area of the scourge of violence against women with a wave of his wand? The smile vanished from the face of the father of three daughters.
“That area needs a beacon of light. I will try my best to illuminate it.”
Aware of the questionable secular credentials of the man leading his party’s Lok Sabha campaign, Sorcar steered the discussion to his own religious beliefs.
“We named our youngest daughter Mumtaz. When my haemoglobin level dropped a few years ago, I was advised immediate blood transfusion. My body rejected two bottles of blood before an unknown donor came forward. Later, I learnt he was a Muslim youth. So I can proudly say I am a Hindu in whose veins runs Muslim blood.”
Sorcar has received offers to contest elections several times from various parties. “But this is the first time I felt like taking the plunge.”
He is known to have friends in the Left Front — chairman Biman Bose, along with leaders Sujan Chakraborty and Rabin Deb, had attended his eldest daughter Maneka’s wedding.
But Sorcar said that many people who had assumed he was a Leftist “seemed relieved on seeing me at the BJP rally”.
Will he seek campaign tips from Maneka’s father-in-law, the sitting Trinamul MP from Ranaghat?
“Of course. We might even exchange constituencies for a while,” he laughed.
Sorcar is aware that he would be facing Mamata Banerjee confidante Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar if she is re-nominated from her current seat.
“A fair election is a myth. But if the polling is fair, I have a chance,” he said.
“Paribartan” — Mamata’s slogan of change — will be his poll chime as well. “Here we are waiting for Calcutta to turn into a London. But if we look westward in our own country, we would see development as ground reality,” he said, indicating Modi’s Gujarat.
Being a pragmatist, the magician has spoken to his daughters about the possibility of a defeat.
“They told me that if I lose, it will be a loss for the common people, who think politics is dirty and therefore stay away. I have been getting so many calls from people who have dreamt but never dared. They say my example gives them the courage to join politics themselves,” says the man who, when asked his age, replies: “P.C. Sorcar Junior, senior citizen.”