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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Red to green: CPM hands join Trinamul


Red to green: CPM hands join Trinamul

J. P. YADAV
Rakesh Pant (right) with Trinamul’s Sultan Ahmed at Dehradun airport
Dehradun, Jan. 28: After holding aloft the red flag for well over two decades, Rakesh Pant, 49, and Anil Bisht, 48, have turned green — a colour they say represents the “real Marx”.
“We were actively associated with the CPM since 1984 but realised there was no hope for the party. When the Trinamul Congress contacted us, we readily agreed since we believe Mamata Banerjee is practising a better form of Marxism than the CPM,” said Pant, convener of Trinamul’s core committee in Uttarakhand.
Pant used to be the state joint secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the CPM’s youth wing, in undivided Uttar Pradesh. Both he and Bisht were active CPM members.
Trinamul managers picked them in July-August last year to fulfil Mamata’s wish to spread her party’s wings outside Bengal and secure national status for it. The two got others from the CPM and other parties and hurriedly formed the 10-member core committee to field candidates in the state, which goes to the polls on Monday.
Mamata’s party is contesting 15 of the state’s 70 seats, while the CPM and the CPI have fielded just 10 candidates. Trinamul’s initial plan was to field 32 candidates.
“The CPM cannot claim birthright over Marxism. It is for the people to decide and in Bengal they have shown that Mamata was better than the CPM,” Pant said, pointing to the Nandigram and Singur agitations as proof of Mamata’s Marxist credentials.
Pant and Bisht were at pains to differentiate their crossover from that of politicians changing sides in election season in search of tickets. Neither of the two is fighting the election.
So how did Trinamul track them down? Pant said he was contacted by Calcutta mayor Sovan Chatterjee. “In 1993, Sovan Chatterjee along with others was selected for the national youth award. Among the awardees was a person whom I had trained. Sovanda got in touch with him and then contacted me,” he said.
Thereafter, Pant and Bisht travelled to Calcutta and met Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy.
The former comrades are working out of a room in a low-cost hotel, where they have stored campaign material, because Trinamul doesn’t have an office in Uttarakhand.
Its eight-page manifesto and four-page appeal to voters in Hindi is in black and white. But the party has come up with a catchy slogan: “Dekhlia haath aur phool ab to sirf Trinamul. (You have seen the hand and the flower, now it’s only Trinamul.)”
“Uttarakhand has shuttled between the Congress and the BJP and both have let the people down. Trinamul has come to give an alternative,” Pant said — Didi’s party taking the line that behenji’s BSP is already selling to the people of Uttarakhand.
The Trinamul manifesto stresses the people’s right to “jal, jangal, zameen”.
Top party leaders, including railway minister Dinesh Trivedi and junior tourism minister Sultan Ahmed, have campaigned in the state.