The Telegraph
Monday , February 10 , 2014
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Faces in the crowd

Gautam Purkayastha at Brigade on Sunday. (Bishwarup Dutta)

People make rallies and there were some interesting ones at the Left Front’s Brigade Parade Ground assembly on Sunday. Metro tracked some of them.

The Family

Gautam Purkayastha, owner of a restaurant, a hotel and a nursing home in Calcutta, is fed up with the city’s social, political and business atmosphere. Purkayastha, wife Suparna and 14-year-old son Ushnish landed on the Maidan on Sunday, driven by an urge to hear what the principal opposition in the state had to say about the government. They settled down with some friends away from the epicentre, but the ears didn’t miss a word from the speeches.

“I am not affiliated to any party but as an entrepreneur I feel Calcutta is getting stifled and stagnated,” he said.

The Swimmer

As lakhs braved the heat and dust to hear the Left leaders, 20-year-old Niloy Biswas kept himself cool by swimming in the one of the Victoria Memorial ponds. Swimming there is strictly prohibited but a rally day is different. “This is my fifth Left Front rally and I have taken a dip in a cool, clean Victoria pond each time,” said the Sodepur resident, looking refreshed after a 30-minute swim.

The Retreat

Two friends on holiday in Calcutta beat a hasty retreat from Victoria Memorial within 10 minutes of entering the premises, overwhelmed by the massive crowd inside. Maria Zerzanova from Slovakia and Connie Campuzano from Chile, both schoolteachers, reached the city on Saturday and had planned to visit Victoria before heading to Varanasi on Monday.

“There were just so many people inside. I’ve never seen such a big crowd on the roads before. What are they here for?” wondered Maria before hurrying to the planetarium.

The Sloganeers

They stood huddled opposite the Gandhi statue on Mayo Road, strategising and brainstorming about innovative slogans. A group of seven college buddies from Panihati debated passionately about the content of their couplets. While one suggested something on Sudipta Gupta, another came up with a harpoon on the Saradha controversy.

The one that made the cut with unanimous vote: “Asche din e ghurbe chaka, shobar haath e lal pataka (Soon the wheels will start moving and everyone will raise the Red flag)

The Conman

A middle-aged man in a blue shirt, similar to the one worn by parking attendants, was spotted collecting Rs 10 from those arriving at the venue on bikes. He had stationed himself opposite Victoria and was confidently guiding the bikes towards the parking area for a fee. When confronted by CPM activists that parking was free, he took to his heels.