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Past is not past

Calcutta, July 8: Biman Bose and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today spoke of plans to commemorate the birth centenaries of several Left leaders, prompting a section of the CPM to wonder whether digging into the past would boost revival efforts at a time the party was failing to connect with youths.

At a programme in Nazrul Mancha to commemorate the birth centenary of former chief minister Jyoti Basu, the two Left veterans announced similar events in memory of Bhupesh Gupta, Hare Krishna Konar and Snehanshu Acharya.

“Jyotibabu’s birth centenary celebrations will not end here. More events will be organised. We will also mark the birth anniversaries of Snehanshu Acharya and Bhupesh Gupta later this year,” CPM state secretary Bose said.

Acharya was a former advocate-general and a close friend of Basu. Gupta was a CPI leader and Rajya Sabha MP for five terms since 1952.

Former chief minister Bhattacharjee said the birth centenary of Hare Krishna Konar, the architect of land reforms in Bengal, would also be commemorated. Konar’s centenary is in 2015.

Although both Bose and Bhattacharjee said the Left was facing a challenge from the Trinamul Congress and of late, the BJP, none came up with ideas on how to revive youths’ interest in the Left.

“The country’s polity has taken a Rightist turn. Only the Left can face this challenge,” said Bhattacharjee, who had in an interview to The Telegraph before the Lok Sabha polls said that slogans of the 1960s did not enthuse the youths any more and stressed on the need to speak the language of the youth.

CPM sources wondered whether such celebrations would enthuse youths.

“All three leaders whose birth centenaries will be commemorated were major contributors to the Left movement. But the question is whether marking their centenaries can help revive the party?” a CPM leader said.

The CPM has traditionally avoided celebrating birth anniversaries. Except for Muzaffar Ahmed, one of the founder members of the undivided Communist Party, the birth anniversary of no other leader was observed.

CPM state secretariat member Rabin Deb said: “Theoretically, we are opposed to celebrating birthdays but centenaries are different. These occasions allow us to pay homage to the contribution of these eminent leaders to the Left movement in the country.”