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For CM, it's party before Nandan - How red was our culture valley then

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By Anindya Sengupta Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at an exhibition in Nandan with artist Suvaprasanna in 2002, five years before the Nandigram agitation split the culture clan. File picture
  • Published 25.07.10

Calcutta, July 24: The climate of change in Bengal’s politics has forced Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to give up an old habit: his almost daily stops at Nandan after office hours.

CPM sources said the chief minister had almost stopped visiting his favourite evening spot as he wanted to devote more time to party work, particularly after the successive poll reverses.

These days, after leaving Writers’ Buildings at 6pm, Bhattacharjee heads straight for Alimuddin Street. At the CPM headquarters, he remains huddled with party leaders such as state secretary Biman Bose to discuss organisational work and the government’s development initiatives, the sources added.

The chief minister then leaves for home around 8.30pm. Bhattacharjee, however, is continuing with his morning routine of spending about an hour at the CPM headquarters.

A party insider said Bhattacharjee would earlier go to Nandan to relax for a while after his day’s slog at the state secretariat, and chat with friends and artistes. Or he would watch a film to unwind.

“The change in Bhattacharjee’s routine began early this year,” an official attached to the cultural complex said. “As far as I can recall, he has not visited Nandan more than twice in the past four or five months. He is bogged down with party work and so has to miss his steaming cups of coffee here.”

A CPM state secretariat member known to be close to Bhattacharjee said: “Buddhada is a culturally inclined person and loves to spend time at Nandan. But after our party’s electoral defeats, he wants to focus more on organisational work and help Biman Bose and our state leadership rejuvenate the party. There is no other reason behind his decision not to visit Nandan so frequently.”

Explaining the chief minister’s current involvement in party work, a CPM leader said that it was at Bhattacharjee’s initiative that the party leadership had convened a meeting of CPM ministers last month. The meeting was called to review their performances on the ground that “not much time is left before the Assembly polls next year’’.

Similarly, the CPM leadership’s move to hold frequent party state committee meetings, as seen in the past few months, is also being attributed to the chief minister’s desire to have regular interactions with district leaders.

Bhattacharjee wants to get a feel of the problems being faced by the organisation and to discuss remedies at a time the Opposition is gaining ground across large swathes of the state, the party leader said.

Earlier, Bhattacharjee would visit Nandan almost every evening after finishing work at Writers’.

In 1993, when he abruptly resigned from Jyoti Basu’s government, Bhattacharjee used to spend most of his evenings at Nandan. It was at Nandan that he had penned his play Dushshamoy. In 1994, he returned to the cabinet and got back his portfolio with additional responsibility of the home (police) department.

If the party leadership has its own way of explaining Bhattacharjee’s decision to drastically cut down his Nandan trips, a section in the CPM’s Calcutta unit said Trinamul Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee’s controversial remark involving him and Nandan was another reason.

The remark, made in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, had created a stir in the CPM with politburo member Sitaram Yechury filing a complaint with the Election Commission against Banerjee. The poll panel censured the Trinamul MP for the remark.