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Ali’s Karat and family ‘factors’

Subhashini Ali

Calcutta, March 6: A section in the CPM is unhappy with Subhashini Ali’s nomination as a Lok Sabha poll candidate from Bengal, saying she does not belong to the state.

Party sources said Subhashini, who lives in Kanpur, was an “outsider” and a local leader should have been given the chance to contest the Barrackpore seat.

According to the sources, the resentment had been caused by murmurs that Alimuddin Street gave Subhashini the ticket because of her proximity to Prakash and Brinda Karat.

“In our party, candidates are selected from among leaders who are associated with state politics. Moreover, Lok Sabha candidates are chosen on the basis of their performance as members of any of the state unit’s committees. That way, Subhashini Ali fits nowhere,” a CPM state committee member said.

The leader said it was “strange” that Subhashini had been “thrust on” the people of Barrackpore.

“We are hearing that Subhashini’s closeness to (CPM general secretary) Prakash and his wife played a role in her selection. This should not have happened,” he said.

Subhashini’s “rich” family background is also learnt to have weighed on the minds of Alimuddin Street bosses.

Subhashini is the daughter of Lakshmi Sahgal, who was part of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army.

Lakshmi was from the then Madras-based Swaminathan family of lawyers and had married Prem Sahgal, who too had joined the INA. Lakshmi’s sister Mrinalini married scientist Vikram Sarabhai. Subhashini and Vikram’s daughter Mallika Sarabhai are cousins.

“With such family lineage, any leader will have an edge over others,” said a CPM leader. He, however, added the fact that Subhashini was a CPM central committee member had not been overlooked at the time of her nomination for the elections.

Speaking to The Telegraph over the phone, Subhashini said there was no resentment over her candidature. “There is no such thing…. They (the CPM’s North 24-Parganas unit) have taken the decision and I agreed to it. I didn’t ask for a nomination from Barrackpore,” she said.

Subhashini will come to Calcutta on Saturday to attend a party rally.

According to a source, the presence of a large number of Hindi-speaking voters in Barrackpore, which has several closed industrial units, had been considered.

Subhashini will take on a Hindi-speaking candidate, Dinesh Trivedi, the sitting Trinamul MP from Barrackpore.

Alimuddin Street, it was learnt, had cited this as one of the reasons behind zeroing in on Subhashini during meetings with the CPM’s North 24-Parganas secretary, Gautam Deb.

“Buddhada (Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) had spoken to Gautam about Subhashini’s candidature. He told Gautam to consider her case as Barrackpore has a significant Hindi-speaking electorate. Buddhada also saida fresh face could help the CPM fight Trinamul better in Barrackpore,” a CPM leader said.

Several leaders in North 24-Parganas are, however, of the opinion that those who have been fighting Trinamul “tooth and nail” should have been given the ticket.

Tarit Topdar, a former CPM MP from Barrackpore, was ruled out by the leadership as many in the party believe that his “high-handedness” had cost the district unit dear in the 2011 Assembly polls, it was learnt.

Nepaldeb Bhattacharya, a CPM state committee member from North 24-Parganas known for his organisational skills, had also been considered, the sources said. But the state leadership felt he was a “lightweight”.