Public life, personal details

Written by Shreela Roy | Updated: Sep 28 2008, 05:44am hrs
An Outsider in Politics is an autobiographical work, where the author weaves a compelling narrative through fascinating anecdotes and candid observations from her memories of personal life and political career. Related by marriage to the illustrious family of Sarat Chandra Bose and Netaji Subhash Bose, this academic-writer-politician offers glimpses into her political life and family set-up. She sets her story within the larger canvas of political turmoil from pre-independence India till the current scenario, covering six decades, from the 1940s to todays turbulent politics.

Written in a racy and lucid style, the book opens with Boses recollection of the Independence Day, August 15, 1947, a day spent in jubilation in Delhi with her cousins. There are poignant descriptions of her first encounter with communal riots, first in Calcutta (the Great Kolkata Killing) and then in Delhi. The excitement of attending the Bengal Legislative Assembly in session, of being allowed to go to a public meeting at Deshapriya Park where Shah Nawaz Khan of the Azad Hind Fauj gave a speech on the day after Netaji Subhash Chandra Boses birthday, the first time she saw Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarat Chandra Bose and other national leaders at the convocation of Jadavpur Engineering College in1945 are permanently etched in her memory .

The author writes that as a young bride at 1, Woodburn Park, she had to start a conscious process of adjustment to the new environment. She relates some amusing anecdotes to describe the general air of indifference in her in-laws house. Between her family responsibilities, she gradually immersed herself in music, art and in an academic career.

The second section In Politics starts in 1996 when she first entered into active politics after being nominated by the Congress to contest for parliamentary elections. She later joined the Trinamool Congress after much soul-searching when the state Congress split. Her perceptions of the entire election process holds the readers attention. Her victory initiated her entry into parliamentary politics.

Her candid comments on current political leaders of different shades (Mamata Banerjee , Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, and others ) and her scathing criticism of the present state governments policies, particularly with regard to industrialisation, make for interesting reading.

The reviewer is a historian