Barry O’Brien at the BJP headquarters in Calcutta
June 4: They don’t pack the punch of Rajiv Gandhi’s Doscos but the Martinians from Calcutta may soon hit the quorum needed to form a cosy little political club in Delhi.
Barry O’Brien, who was once nominated by the Left to represent the Anglo-Indian community, today joined the BJP along with his wife Denise.
Barry is the younger brother of Derek O’Brien, the Trinamul spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP — a detail that drew much comment in Bengal’s political circles although the elder sibling could not be contacted for comment despite repeated attempts.
Another nugget drew attention in Delhi: that Barry is an alumnus of La Martiniere for Boys.
The background was worthy of notice perhaps because the national capital has not had a standout schoolboys’ club since the Camelot of Rajiv Gandhi and his Doon School boys faded away, post-Bofors. At the college level, Stephenians have ruled the roost.
Some BJP leaders said Barry stood a chance to become a nominated MP in the Lok Sabha, although the new entrant denied knowledge of any such plan.
If the BJP-led government makes such a nomination — probably from the Anglo-Indian segment of two MPs in the Lok Sabha — not only will Derek have the company of his brother in Parliament but some Martinians who admire Narendra Modi will also have a reason to cheer.
Chandan Mitra, a Rajya Sabha member and the BJP candidate who lost from Hooghly in the recent Lok Sabha elections, is also an alumnus of La Martiniere for Boys. So is Swapan Dasgupta, the columnist known for his pro-BJP views. Suhel Seth, the marketing consultant who does not mince his words and has been an ardent admirer of Modi on social media, passed out of La Martiniere in 1982. Ashok Malik, another columnist sympathetic to the BJP, is also a Martinian.
None of these Martinians is being tipped yet for a formal position in Modi’s inner circle, unlike Rajiv Gandhi’s Doon School buddies who were given coveted posts in the mid-1980s. If Mani Shankar Aiyar and Wajahat Habibullah were in Rajiv Gandhi’s PMO, Arun Singh and Dinesh Singh were influential ministers.
Journalist Suman Dubey, also from Doon School, was Rajiv Gandhi’s media adviser. Captain Amarinder Singh, another Dosco who recently defeated Arun Jaitley, was the first to host Sonia Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi after they got married in 1968.
A formal Martinian club in Delhi is not expected but even if they hang out together once in a while in the capital, Derek can cite something other than just politics to excuse himself. Derek is an alumnus of St. Xavier’s, Calcutta, which summarily disqualifies him from an exclusive Martinian gathering.
Barry was also in St. Xavier’s Collegiate School till 1980 (the year Derek passed Higher Secondary from St. Xavier’s). But the younger brother moved to La Martiniere for Boys, which was following the ISC syllabus. St. Xavier’s Collegiate School was then following the state board but eventually switched to ICSE and ISC.
Asked if the BJP would nominate him to the Lok Sabha, Barry said tonight: “I am not aware of such a development. This much I can tell you that I have decided to join BJP inspired by Narendra Modi’s work mantra and his vision for the youths.”
Earlier, joining the BJP in the presence of state unit president Rahul Sinha, Barry said: “My wife and I have been associated with social work but have never been in politics. The Left had nominated me as an MLA because of my social work among the Anglo-Indian community. Now we will work for the BJP.”
Trinamul MP Saugata Roy, whose brother Tathagata is a BJP leader, said everybody in a family might not have the same political ideals. “My elder brother has been with the BJP for years, I have been with Trinamul. He has his own path, I have mine,” Saugata said.
Siddhartha Chatterjee, who had played the role of Topshe in Sonar Kella, and former footballer Sasthi Duley also joined the BJP today.
Sinha said his party would counter Trinamul by taking more celebrities into the party fold. “More celebrities will join us in the coming days because of the party’s surge in Bengal,” he said.