Long & Winding Road For The Reds’ way Back Home

Long & Winding Road For The Reds’ way Back Home

The slogan on the wall of a decrepit house on Motilal Nehru Street in South Calcutta read “Hal Pherate, Lal Pherao’ (To improve your lot, bring back the ‘Reds’)

Jayanta Roy ChowdhuryUpdated: Friday, May 03, 2024, 09:35 AM IST
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Kolkata: The slogan on the wall of a decrepit house on Motilal Nehru Street in South Calcutta read “Hal Pherate, Lal Pherao’ (To improve your lot, bring back the ‘Reds’). Though many in Bengal do not agree with the slogan, a large section, especially among the youth and die-hard old Leftists, fervently pray for such a “deliverance”. The ‘Reds’, or the motley group of Left parties led by the CPI(M), had stormed to form a government in 1977 by winning decisively in assembly polls soon after the ouster of the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government at the Centre.

Some 34 years later they were decisively routed by Trinamool Congress after a series of agitations against farmlands being taken over for industry. It turned the tide against the Left Front government led by CPI(M)’s Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. Since then it has been downhill for the ‘Reds’. Ignoring that fall and the scorching heat that has kept most of Bengal indoors, thousands of CPI (M) volunteers and its youth wing teamed up to march with their candidate poetess Saira Shah Halim for the prestigious South Kolkata seat.

South Kolkata constituency

The route from Kolkata’s up-market Gol Park to Hazra Road was well chosen. Students from Jadavpur University, a bastion of the Leftist union – SFI – and several colleges that dot Hazra and nearby areas joined up, giving the ‘Reds’ the numerical strength they were unable to display in the last few elections. South Kolkata is a constituency which the founder of Jana Sangh Syama Prasad Mookerjee represented in the first Lok Sabha. Much later, from 1991 onwards, West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee represented the constituency for a record six times.

It is still held by her party’s Mala Roy. Debasree Chaudhuri, a junior minister in the union cabinet and an MP from Raigunj in North Bengal has also been fielded by the BJP, making it an allwomen’s battle

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