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Separated By Politics, But Far From Bros Grim

Separated By Politics, But Far From Bros Grim

Author: Ajanta Chakraborty
Publication: The Times of India
Date: March 31, 2009

You can't miss the facial similarity nor their Rabindrasangeet ring tones. Their political careers have charted different paths but taken them to important positions in state politics. This time, one's a candidate from Kolkata North, while the other is standing from Dum Dum. Yes, they are brothers. But you wouldn't get Tathagata and Sougata Roy to stand together for a photograph. Such are the compulsions of the election season.

Sougata Roy is the Trinamul candidate from Dum Dum while Tathagata is the BJP's high-profile contestant from Kolkata North.

Do they see eye to eye? "We see a lot of each other in the private sphere," said Tathagata (63), the eldest of four brothers. Sougata (60), the next in line, says, "We don't discuss politics at home." They wouldn't. Politics is a touchy issue this time. Quite different from the last Lok Sabha polls when Sougata contested as a Trinamul candidate from Diamond Harbour and Tathagatha, the BJP state chief then, campaigned in areas like Bishnupur.

Post-Mamata Banerjee's break with the NDA, it wouldn't be politically correct to talk about brotherly bonding. Understandably, the two refused to be photographed under the same roof. Sougata was more jittery than ever to talk about "personal relationship". Never mind that he did the kanyadaan for dada's daughter, Malini, a few years ago. Both had been chelas of author Pramathanath Bishi as students. Bishi had taught them to love Tagore and denounce Communism. Then Sougata joined Chhatra Parishad while in Presidency College and dada Tathagata was busy carving a career as an engineer from Shibpur Engineering College. As Sougata got more and more involved in the Congress, brother Tathagata preferred to remain "politically alert" for several years before joining the RSS.

"It's strange that I became a right-wing activist while he (Sougata) took the slightly left path of centre. Those days there were dinnertable debates. But we never fought over politics," said Tathagata. How did it feel to be fighting against each other's parties even if they were not fighting against one another? Sougata remained non-committal. Tathagata called it "mere coincidence".

"Politics doesn't change personal lives," said Sougata. In fact, not much has changed within the Roy household as far as Dolly (Sougata's wife) and Anuradha (Tathagata's wife) are concerned. They don't exactly club together-Tathagata prefers Calcutta Club while Sougata frequents the Tolly. But the couples do keep dropping in at each others homes. On March 23, even after hectic campaigning, Sougata made it to a family get-together at dada's. Politically, they want to harp on the differences. "There was a political understanding last elections, but we'll always remain different political beings," said Tathagata.

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