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Out with the truth on Netaji, says Subhashini Ali (Election Special)

Posted on Apr 06 2014 | IANS

By Anurag Dey, Kolkata, April 6 : A firebrand trade unionist and women's right activist who has also dabbled in acting, multifaceted Marxist leader Subhashini Ali is now battling the "outsider" tag in West Bengal as she bids for a comeback to the Lok Sabha. She wants the files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to be declassified.

Daughter of Netaji's close confidants - Colonel Prem Sehgal and Captain Lakshmi Sehgal of the Indian national Army (INA)- CPI-M nominee Ali hopes to raise the pitch for declassification of secret files on the iconic nationalist leader whose mysterious disappearance still fuels debates.

"If elected I will surely raise the issue of declassification of files on Netaji. If there are such files, as is being claimed, then they must be out in the public domain. The people have the right to know about the man who still continues to inspire generations," says Ali, whose parents took inspiration from Bose while naming their child.

Contesting from Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas district, the former Communist Party of India-Marxist MP from Kanpur deplores rivals calling her an "outsider" and is "aghast" at the rising crime against women which has created a "fear psychosis" compelling many a youngster to forgo their promising careers.

"Am I not an Indian? Just because I was not born here, does it make me an outsider? It's a shame that even after decades of independence, politicians foster regionalism, communalism and other biases," she says.

Crisscrossing her constituency addressing people at street corners, reaching out to them at homes or organising mass rallies, Ali has been constantly endeavouring to familiarize herself about the needs, aspirations, fears and prejudices of her electorate, which comprises a large chunk of Hindi-speaking industrial workers whose cause she has espoused for years.

Pitted against the formidable Dinesh Trivedi - sitting MP and former railway minister - of the Trinamool Congress, retired IPS officer BJP's R.K. Handa and Congress candidate Samrat Topedar, Ali says it is her mission to "strengthen Barrackpore".

The recent visit of her filmmaker son Shaad Ali of "Saathiya" and "Bunty aur Babli" fame, who accompanied her in a few road shows, has further boosted her spirits.

A frontline leader of the CPI-M arm All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) since its inception, Ali has had her stint with the National Commission for Women, and blames the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in the state for the rising crime against women that has created a "fear psychosis".

"Ever since the new government came to power, law and order has been steadily declining. Things have come to such a pass that woman are afraid of venturing out even during the day. The fear psychosis has curtailed many a promising youngsters' careers," says the feminist who condemns "sati pratha" and beauty pageants with equal fervour.

Sixty seven-year old Ali believes women in India are aptly empowered and blames the administration's inefficiency behind their pitiable condition in society even decades after the country's independence.

Ali, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur in 1989, lost subsequent elections in 1991, 1996 and 2004.

But this time around, she is pinning her hopes of a comeback.

"The reception I have been getting is overwhelming. Much like the entire state, people here too are disillusioned with the regimes both at the centre and the state. They have realised only the Left parties have the alternative policies which can give them a secured life," says Ali.

She may have forayed into the realms of films as a costume designer in the 1981 classic, "Umrao Jaan", or played the mother of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in "Asoka", but Ali insists that she is an activist-politician who has no other occupation but to work for the cause of the common man.

An avid social networker, Ali has been using the medium to interact with youth and get a closer peek into their psyche.

(Anurag Dey can be contacted at

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