| Ghani Khan Chowdhury
Malda, April 21: Michael Kearney had better watch out, Abu Barkat Ataul Ghani Khan Chowdhury is here.
Well, he has been here for some time — 69 years, according to the mandatory affidavit submitted with his nomination papers today — but no one quite knew until now that all this time he was a candidate for the Guinness Book of World Records.
According to the affidavit, Ghani, the legend of Malda from where he has been winning elections for as long as anyone can remember — he is the only one who can provide some competition to the longevity of Bengal’s ruling Left Front — would be 1935 born.
The boy Ghani Khan Chowdhury passed his matriculation examination from a school in Salar, Murshidabad, in the year 1940, the affidavit claims. At the age of five he was a matriculate.
Wait, this is not all the child prodigy accomplished. In 1942, at the age of seven, he passed the intermediate of arts examination from St Xavier’s, Calcutta. At age nine in the year 1944, he graduated from Behrampore’s KN College.
It cannot be said with any certainty if these stunning achievements had been brought to the notice of the Guinness people. His sister Ruby Noor at least was unaware of the facts provided in the affidavit. “The affidavit was supposed to be drawn up by Masidur Rehman, the co-president of the district Congress. I do not know what Barkatda (as Chowdhury is widely called) told him,” she said.
Kearney, however, should certainly start worrying about his record. The Guinness record holder for the youngest graduate passed his examination from Santa Rosa Junior College, California, in 1994, at the age of 10.
Clad in a blue shirt and trousers, Chowdhury asked the returning officer at the time of filing his nomination: Kire, shob thik achhey to (Hey, is everything in order)'”
Asok Bala, the returning officer and district magistrate, said: “If anyone has given incorrect information in the affidavit, I have nothing to do. However, if anyone files a complaint or goes to court, it is a different matter.”
Although Congress supporters are red-faced, Chowdhury’s rivals are not making much of the records provided in the affidavit.
The returning officer had this to add: “Even if he had given his age as minus 69, we would have had to accept the affidavit.”
If that’s going a little too far, let’s just say that the records available on the Parliament website maintained by the National Informatics Centre state that Chowdhury was born on November 1, 1927, which would make him 77, not 69, now. This information, one presumes, would have been supplied by the seven-time MP himself.