ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

Indrajit Gupta had an uninterrupted parliamentary career from 1960, with a gap of two-and-a-half years from 1977. The suavity of his parliamentary performance had depth. The Lok Sabha gradually lost its lustre, it became plebianised without being proletarianised. Gupta had little illusion about the effectiveness of setting aside precious hours that could have been used for trade union work for silly parliamentary chores. He must have also realised in later years the anomaly of representing a constituency where his own party was a growing non-entity. But the gentleman in him was able to tuck in his unhappiness with a sangfroid that could not but command respect.

The academic credentials were impeccable, St Stephen’s at Delhi followed by King’s College, Cambridge. The pedigree was equally formidable. His grandfather was in the Indian Civil Service, his father too was a top civil servant. Since it had become a matter of habit in the family, his elder brother was also in the Indian Civil Service, ending up chief secretary in the government of West Bengal. Members of the household breathed Brahmo sophistication. Whatever the expectations of the family from him, Indrajit Gupta chose to be a deviant. He went to England at the tail end of the 1930s recession. Disgust with the system was in the air. Even so, his sensitivities need not have been any different from those of his breed. But, in such matters, accidents and happenstances play a large role. A sense of decency sometimes pushes one into realising the gross lack of aesthetics in the existing social order; a handful are extraordinarily affluent, while the rest add to the huge load of penury and unemployment. Indrajit Gupta, at least in the beginning, flabbergasted the members of his family. Still, they had to lump it. For there was a specificity in his uprising. He rebelled against the system, the rebellion was however replete with courtesy. The family therefore was chary to say that he had gone astray; he, the household record said, had decided to be different.

The phenomenon is unlikely to be repeated in the Indian milieu. The times are changed, the sting of imperialism no longer hurts, and neo-imperialism is yet to receive its due purchase. That apart, perhaps in the particular era Indrajit found his new bearings, getting declassed – or the endeavour to do so – was not such an arcane occurrence as it is regarded today. The conviction the mind reached, it was felt in that season was not that difficult to follow up in actual life. After all, when Sajjad Zaheer returned from England as a red-hot communist, he abjured residence inside the palace built by his father, Sir Wazir Hasan; he preferred the commodious garage, until his mother’s plaintive importunings persuaded him to be, despite being a deviant, a proper offspring.

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