Congress mourns loss of leader who filled a void

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 11.07.08

Ruby Noor entered politics in 1991 when her famous elder brother and Congress patriarch ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury made her contest from the Sujapur Assembly constituency of Malda. She was then 46.

Since then Ruby has had the impeccable record of not losing once from Sujapur. In 2001, Ghani Khan made her the Malda district Congress president. She was the district Congress chief till she passed away on Thursday.

Over the years, her brother ingrained in her an insight into Bengal politics, which in turn helped her feel the pulse of electoral politics.

Under her able leadership, the Congress came to power in the Malda zilla parishad this year without having to clutch on to other anti-Left parties.

The new zilla parishad sabhadhipati, Sabina Yasmeen, was Ruby’s choice despite several attempts made by Congress dissidents to thwart her move.

Ruby fell ill while the panchayat samities were being formed in June. She was admitted to a private nursing home in Calcutta.

Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury, one of the three surviving brothers of Ruby, said over the phone from Switzerland that she was born in 1945 at their Kotwali residence.

“She had her primary education in Malda and passed her school finals in 1964 from Sri Shikshayatan School in Calcutta,” Abu Naser said. He said Ruby got married during her college days to Syed Noor, a resident of Beck Bagan in Calcutta. Syed Noor used to work for a company in Canada and Ruby had accompanied her husband there. He passed away in Calcutta in 2003.

Ruby is survived by her three daughters.

Abu Naser said Ruby returned to India with her family in 1972 when Ghani Khan was the state’s power and irrigation minister. “They settled down in Beck Bagan with their daughters.”

In 1980, after Ghani Khan re-did their Kotwali residence, Ruby used to come and spend long periods there. “It was then that my brother started grooming her to enter politics and she contested the elections for the first time in 1991,” Abu Naser said.

The Khan Chowdhury charisma also worked wonders when Ghani Khan made his youngest brother, Abu Hashem, the Assembly polls from Kaliachak in 1996. He won.

Abu Hashem later went on to fill the MP’s post vacated by Ghani Khan’s death in 2006.

Two deaths in the Khan Chowdhury family in two years have left a void in the Congress in Malda. One of the general secretaries of the Malda Congress, Hasan Ali Shah, said it was a shock that another from the Khan Chowdhury family was no more.

“It is hard to believe that Rubydi is no longer with us. She never let us feel the void left behind by Barkatda, in fact she rejuvenated the party,” he said.

Narendranath Tewari, the Congress chairman of the Englishbazar Municipality, said there was a pall of gloom among party workers. “It was only the other day that Rubydi entertained Sonia Gandhi (UPA chairperson) at their Kotwali residence. She had cooked and made all arrangements on her own,” Tewari said.

Almost everyone agreed that Ruby’s passing away so soon after Ghani Khan’s death had come as a terrible blow to the party, especially after the gains during the panchayat polls. “We promise that we will carry out the good work and legacy that Barkatda and Rubydi have left behind,” Hasan Ali Shah said.