A ‘jatra’ production on Jyoti Basu

KOLKATA: Seeking to cash in on the huge popularity of the late Marxist politician Jyoti Basu, a jatra (folk theatre) group here is going to mount a production on him.

Titled "Alor Sikha Amar Jyoti", the jatra, scheduled to go on stage by this month-end will begin with Basu's death on January 17 this year and then go back 40 years to 1972 when the leader engaged in confrontation with Congress party at Baranagar in Kolkata's northern fringe.

The manager of the jatra company 'Anjali Opera,' Prashanta Goswami, said he is looking to cash in on the popularity that was in evidence post the death of the leader as thousands of people attended his funeral procession.

''The facts will be presented through the voice of a 'journalist character' who having known Basu for a long time will chronicle the landmark events in the leader's life which will then be enacted,'' Goswami said.

After touching Basu's stint as opposition leader in the early 70s, his coming to power with a massive popular mandate in 1977, his historic public meeting following the electoral rout of Congress and his stint as chief minister of West Bengal from late 1970s till 2000 will all find place in the over three-hour-long production.

The jatra will also highlight Basu's landmark political decisions like land reforms and panchayat body elections that brought about a revolutionary change in agrarian rural Bengal.

Talented actor of small screen Gouri Shankar Panda will essay the role of Basu who was a thorough gentleman and a strict disciplinarian. ''We will touch upon his personal equation with leaders like diehard opponent Mamata Banerjee, Pranab Mukherjee, Sonia Gandhi and others among a galaxy of personalities that the leader had come in contact with in different stages of his life,'' Goswami said.

He, however, skirted a question if controversies surrounding his long rule in the state would be dealt with as well by stating that the jatra would be "acceptable to all sections of people," the objective being to highlight his towering personality.

The character of Basu's close friend and bitter political rival Siddhartha Shankar Roy will also be there in the play.

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