CPM young guns bat for poll Turk

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By MEGHDEEP BHATTACHARYYA
  • Published 4.04.11
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Calcutta, April 3: If Dhoni’s boys pranced to World Cup victory yesterday, the CPM today fielded its youth brigade to campaign for its youngest candidate.

As Kasba woke up bleary-eyed this morning after celebrating Team India’s triumph till the early hours, a group of young men and women, the CPM’s Gen X, walked through the roads, knocking on doors and seeking support for 25-year-old Shatarup Ghosh, the party’s candidate for the Assembly seat.

As if taking a leaf out of young Team India’s success story, the party today injected fresh blood into its campaign in the newly formed constituency as 50-odd young comrades, including the sons and daughters of CPM ministers and leaders, hit the streets around 8am.

Mostly sporting smart khaddars and kurtas teamed with denims and shades, they sought votes for “local boy” Shatarup, who is up against Trinamul Congress heavyweight Javed Khan, for nearly four hours.

Their age was not their only USP. Some of them had famous surnames too. The CPM team included housing minister Gautam Deb’s son Saptarshi (23), state secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty’s daughter Usashie (33), health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra’s daughter Raushnara (34) and the late Left Front chairman Anil Biswas’s daughter Ajanta (30).

“Dhoni’s young brigade made India proud. There’s no end to what youth can achieve. We are here for our boy Shatarup. He will do a great job given a chance,” said Raushnara, who teaches physiology at Rajabazar Science College.

The comrades, including SFI’s all-India secretary Ritabrata Banerjee (31) and the student union’s state secretary, Kaustav Chatterjee (31), shook hands with the people, greeted them, chatted with them and asked hundreds of families to “stand by” Shatarup.

They marched in the sweltering heat through Kasba’s slums and upscale areas, a spring in their steps and an occasional halt at roadside tea stalls for a quick cup.

Although lack of young leaders is one of the major problems the CPM faces today, nurturing young and bright comrades used to be one of the party’s important strategies in the seventies and the eighties. Many of today’s politburo members began their climb up the hierarchy ladder as early as their student days.

While Prakash Karat was an understudy of A.K. Gopalan, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Biman Bose and Anil Biswas were known as Promode Das Gupta’s acolytes.

“It’s good to see youths taking active interest in politics,” said 68-year-old Kasba resident Bikash Mukhejee, a retired bank employee.

As Shatarup greeted the voters with folded hands, a beaming Ushasie said: “Ashirbad deben, shomorthon korben. Apnader pashey chai (Bless us, support us. We want you by our side).” The actress and economics teacher at Shyamaprasad College promised the electorate that Shatarup would be “available for them, 365 days a year”.

“Almost everyone knows me here. I grew up and played with many of the young voters in the constituency. People love me and they will bless me with their votes,” said Shatarup, who studies economics at Rabindra Bharati University. Ajanta, who teaches history at the same varsity, nodded.

Deb’s son Saptarshi, a final-year economics student at Calcutta University, said today’s interaction would have a “positive effect” on the voters.

The confidence of the Gen X brigade, however, might not be enough to ensure Shatarup’s victory over Khan, a veteran of many battles.

The Kasba constituency was carved out of Ballygunge, Dhakuria and Jadavpur. In the 2006 Assembly polls, Khan had won from Ballygunge while the RSP’s Kshiti Goswami and chief minister Bhattacharjee had bagged Dhakuria and Jadavpur, respectively.

Besides fighting the winds of change, Shatarup will also have to win over a section of his party that is unhappy with his candidature. “He is a minnow in comparison to Khan. Although he is being billed as a bright, young candidate, he has very little to show other than his age,” a CPM insider said.