P.R. Dasmunsi: Brilliant organiser who rose during golden hour of student politics (Obituary) | WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs P.R. Dasmunsi: Brilliant organiser who rose during golden hour of student politics (Obituary) – WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs
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P.R. Dasmunsi: Brilliant organiser who rose during golden hour of student politics (Obituary)

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Former Union Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi
New Delhi: Congress leader and former Union Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who was in coma since 2008, died at Apollo Hospital in New Delhi on Nov 20, 2017. (File Photo: IANS)

By Sirshendu Panth 

Kolkata, Nov 20: Articulate and multifaceted, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi was a master in political manoeuvring and the topmost leader of the youth brigade that took West Bengal by storm in the late 1960s, to sideline the Communists and bring back the Congress to power in 1972.

It was a time when the Maoist movement went from strength to strength in the state, with bright youngsters leaving schools, colleges and universities to follow Charu Majumdar’s doctrine of annihilating ‘class enemies’, that virtually saw a bloodbath over the years.

Dasmunsi was then the magnet for those young men and women, who disagreed with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) — the main force of the two United Front governments in the state in 1967 and 1969 — as also the policy of the bullets espoused by the Maoists.

First as a student leader in the Calcutta University, and then as a brilliant Youth Congress organiser, Dasmunsi was a major draw with his fiery oratory and many of his proteges like Subrata Mukherjee and Sougata Roy went on to occupy key positions in the government, state Congress, and in later years, to the breakaway Trinamool Congress.

The student and youth movements, militant, but pacifist compared to the Maoist line, enabled Siddhartha Shankar Ray to become the chief minister at the head of a Congress government. At the same time it gave birth to bitter factional fights in the state party, which continue to this day.

Groupism and lobby politics have often been cited as key reasons for the Congress singlehandedly failing to dislodge the communist-led Left Front government that remained in power for 34 years till 2011, when Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress combined with the Congress to take over power.

A grieving Mukherjee recalled the turbulent 60s and 70s. “I have become fatherless again. In my politics, as also at a personal level, I had only Priyada. We were a pair. Everybody used to say Priya-Subrata. We lived together in a commune. We studied in Calcutta University. He even cooked for me. He led a high-quality student movement under the banner of the Chhatra Parishad. It was because of him that the Left led United Front lost power, and S.S. Ray became chief minister”.

Dasmunsi’s talent saw his meteoric rise in the 1970s in the Congress, then led by Indira Gandhi. He became an All India Congress Committee member in 1970, was made the state youth Congress chief the same year, and entered the Lok Sabha from the then South Calcutta seat in 1971, at the young age of 26.

As early as 1971, he was elected president of All India Youth Congress, a position he held till 1975, when Sanjay Gandhi removed him to anoint his (Gandhi’s) favourite, Ambika Soni, to the post.

Dasmunsi did not take the snub kindly, and left the Congress in 1979, when the party split after it lost power at the centre in 1977 at the height of the anti-Emergency wave.

Dasmunsi joined the Congress (Socialist), became its West Bengal president and is said to have commented in public meetings that he would rather change his religion or eat cow-dung than return to the parent party.

But that he did after the Congress rode back to power in 1980, though Indira Gandhi never forgave him for turning against her during her difficult days.

In 1984, Dasmunsi returned to the Lok Saba from Howrah constituency by exploiting the sentiments of the jobless youths in the area. In meeting after meeting, he displayed a key and declared: “This is the key to open all closed factories and industries.”

It was a promise too farfetched in a developing nation. But then, it was typical Dasmunsi — captivating people with his gift of the gab and promising them the moon. It also showed his convincing ability and endearing personality.

In 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi inducted Dasmunsi in his council of ministers as Minister of State for Commerce. Subsequently, he was also made president of the state Congress, but the party lost badly to the LF in the 1987 state assembly polls despite Gandhi’s vigorous campaign.

Dasmunsi lost from Howrah in 1989, with many saying his failed promise to reopen factories led to the debacle,

He again bit the dust in 1991 but re-entered the Lok Sabha in 1996 from the same constituency — an indicator of the gritty fighter he was.

In 1999, Dasmunsi successfully fought the Lok Sabha elections from Raiganj (now under Uttar Dinajpur district) and repeated his success in 2004.

Dasmunsi also served as Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet from 2004 to 2008, when he suffered a paralytic stroke, lost his power of speech and went into a coma from which he never came out.

As I&B minister, Dasmunsi banned several western television networks, calling their broadcasts obscene. During his tenure, the centre got Indian sports broadcaster Nimbus to share broadcast rights for Indian cricket matches with the state-run Doordarshan.

Besides brining out the Dakhhini Barta magazine, for which he wrote a large number of well-crafted articles and other literary works, Dasmunsi stewarded the country’s football for close to two decades till 2008, when, after his illness, Praful Patel took over the reins.

As AIFF president, Dasmunsi started the National Football League in 1996, served as match commissioner in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany and organised the Millennium Cup international tournament in 2000.

In the 2004 Athens Olympics, Dasmunsi was named Chef-de-Mission of the Indian contingent.

Dasmunsi was born on November 13, 1945 at Chirirbandar (now in Bangladesh).

In 1994, Dasmunsi married actress Deepa Dasmunsi, who later became an MLA and MP. The couple has one son, Priyadeep, nicknamed Michil (rally).

IANS

Politics

I have lost a comrade, colleague and friend: Sonia on Ahmed Patel’s death

Congress has lost one of its greatest son. I am at loss of words at his death. May his soul rest in peace. May god give strength to his family to cope up with this terrible loss.”

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Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi: Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday while condoling the death of Ahmed Patel said she has lost a dedicated Congress colleague.

“In Sh. Ahmed Patel, I have lost a colleague, whose entire life was dedicated to the Congress Party.” she said

She said, “His faithfulness and dedication, his commitment to his duty, his always being there to help, his generosity were rare qualities that distinguished him from others.”

“I have lost an irreplaceable comrade, a faithful colleague and a friend. I mourn his passing and I feel deeply for his bereaved family to whom I offer my sincere feelings of empathy and support,” she added

Scores of Congress leaders condoled Ahmed Patel’s death, “It is very hard to come to terms with Ahmed patel Ji’s passing. He was a political troubleshooter par excellence & will be sorely missed by all. “Ahmedbhai” was also a close friend of my late father’s & a mentor to me,” tweeted Milind Deora.

B.K. Hariprasad said in a tweet, “Its very saddening to know about the demise of Shri Ahmad patel ji. Congress has lost one of its greatest son. I am at loss of words at his death. May his soul rest in peace. May god give strength to his family to cope up with this terrible loss.”

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India

Ahmed Patel’s role in strengthening Congress will always be remembered: PM Modi

A top strategist of the Congress and a most-trusted ally of its president Sonia Gandhi, Patel (71) died in the early hours of Wednesday.

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Narendra Modi

Condoling the death of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said his role in strengthening the opposition party will always be remembered.

Patel spent years in public life, serving the society, Modi noted.

A top strategist of the Congress and a most-trusted ally of its president Sonia Gandhi, Patel (71) died in the early hours of Wednesday.

He was admitted to the Medanta hospital in Gurugram and had been critical for a few days. He had contracted COVID-19 and subsequently, developed complications.

“Saddened by the demise of Ahmed Patel Ji. He spent years in public life, serving society. Known for his sharp mind, his role in strengthening the Congress Party would always be remembered. Spoke to his son Faisal and expressed condolences. May Ahmed Bhai’s soul rest in peace,” the prime minister said in a tweet.

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Election

Ahead of DDC polls, BJP targets Abdullahs over ‘land grab’

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Farooq Abdullah

New Delhi: Ahead of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad trained his guns on the Abdullahs for their alleged role in the Roshni scam.

Prasad alleged that the key leaders of the erstwhile state, including Farooq Abdullah, used their “influence and power for land grabbing”.

“In 1998, Farooq Abdullah had purchased 3 kanals of land but he encroached upon 7 kanals of land which were double the size of the purchase,” Prasad alleged while speaking to the media. He further said that under the Roshni scam, the name of Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Mattu has also appeared, who, the minister alleged, is also a beneficiary of 3 kanals of land.

“There was a conscious land loot by the powerful people of J&K who were getting benefits under the Roshni Act which was declared unconstitutional by the J&K High Court. This is low level politics by the powerful people of J&K and we condemn it,” alleged Prasad.

Prasad said the J&K High Court has declared the Roshni Act as unconstitutional and has stated that the names of people who have acquired land under this Act should be listed and made public.

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