Inspired by Didi, popular Bengali singer to focus on primary education
For years, Soumitra Roy has enthralled countless fans by belting out hit numbers as the lead singer of popular Bengali band "Bhoomi". Now, in the avatar of a Lok Sabha candidate, Roy wants to ensure better health and educational facilities for children.
Fielded by West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress from Malda North constituency in Malda district, the 50-plus ponytailed singer, lyricist and composer says he has responded to the call of its supremo Mamta Banerjee - a "good friend" and "didi" (elder sister).
Hailing from the hamlet of Harishchandrapur in Malda, the crooner hopes he can give something back to the people in his new role.
"My objective would be to work for the education and health of children in Malda. A lot needs to be done," Roy told IANS in a telephone interview.
Dubbed as the urban folk genre, Bhoomi's songs enshrine the connect with the earth. The group's compositions have swayed fans all over Bengal.
A musician first, Roy is aware of the role that politicians can play in advancing rural areas, particularly in Malda, where his family is a household name.
"My bodo jethu (eldest uncle) was Congress-O MP. My mother was president of the Mahila Congress. My choto jethu (younger uncle) was a gram panchayat pradhan. Didi gave me an opportunity to do something for my people, and I accepted it with humility.
"I have kept in touch with my village, though not for political reasons. This is like return of the prodigal son," he observed.
Quizzed about the transition from music to politics, Roy pointed out that both have a common goal - the masses.
"As a singer I sing for the people, songs of the people. This is another platform but it is still for the masses."
Roy is banking on guidance from the party's seniors, particularly Banerjee.
"She is a very clean person and thorough disciplinarian. I really admire her for that. She is totally motivated for the development of West Bengal. Nobody since B.C.Roy (Bengal's second chief minister) has been so driven and really worked for the state," Roy added.
As the son of Manjula Ray who was president of the Mahila Congress when Banerjee joined politics, Roy became friends with the leader as she attended party meetings at their residence.
"She worked under my mother's tutelage when she first forayed into politics around 1980. I have known her since then. We used to have a lot of fun and I am still on that friendly footing with her.
"I still see her as didi. Nothing has changed as far as her character is concerned. Who knew she would be chief minister one day," Roy asserted.
With the singer gearing up to strike a chord with the locals in Malda, bang in the middle of the hottest months, Bhoomi's enthusiastic members are waiting for him to suggest a date so that they can join him at some point of time during the campaigning.
(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 13-03-2014)
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