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Poll push from art platform

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee kickstarted Trinamul candidate Sugata Bose’s Lok Sabha poll campaign on Thursday evening, albeit from Calcutta’s newest art address that falls in his constituency.

Her chosen platform was the inaugural dais of Shuvaprasanna’s art hub Arts Acre in Rajarhat, New Town.

Much before Mamata strode into the sprawling greens of the property, a sizeable population of Bhangar under Bose’s Jadavpur constituency had gathered outside the fence. When the chief minister arrived, their high-decibel cheers drowned the claps from the invited audience sitting inside. Almost on cue, Mamata waved, smiled and shouted instructions for the crowd to be allowed in.

Then, with a wave of her hand, the ceremony began. Bose played anchor for the evening, while Indranil Sen and Soumitra Ray — two other Lok Sabha candidates — made fleeting appearances in the audience.

Bose narrated all that will make Arts Acre “a vibrant cultural centre” and praised Mamata for “her natural talent for art” before inviting the “chief patron of the Bengal renaissance of the 21st century” to address the gathering.

Shuva-da’r ta tey aami pore ashchhi, beshi shomoy nebo na (I will come to Arts Acre later, will not take much time),” Mamata said, steering the spotlight to Bose.

Eije Sugata, nijey Harvard professor. Shob kichhu chhere diye Banglar sharthey nijeke niye chole eshechhe Banglay.”

Mamata introduced Bose to this particular section of the audience who he would have to win over in the upcoming elections.

“Sugata shunley khushi hobe, ei onchol ta, puro Bhangar constituency kintu tar constituency. Tai aajke amader je bhai bon baire chhilen tader hoyto jayga hochhilo na, tader aami dhukiye niye elam,” she smiled.

The wide-eyed locals clapped and cheered again.

Besides the political sideshow, Shuvaprasanna’s dream project got a grand opening.

Harsh Neotia, one of the trustees, recited Tagore and Nazrul Islam, special guest M. Balamuralikrishna sang a few lines, Pandit Birju Maharaj spun a Kathak bol and painter Anjolie Ela Menon pledged one of her major works to Arts Acre.

Beginning Friday, Arts Acre will be open to the public from noon to 5pm every day.