Barun Sengupta was an uncompromising journalist (Obituary)

June 19th, 2008 - 11:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 19 (IANS) A fearless journalist, Barun Sengupta used his pen to telling effect to battle the emergency rule and take on West Bengal’s ruling communists even while making his brainchild, daily Bartaman a successful publication. Dasgupta, 74, died after a prolonged illness at a Koklata nursing home Thursday.

The soul of Sengupta’s journalistic philosophy lay in an uncompromising anti-establishment stand during a career spanning more than half a century.

Born in 1934, Sengupta shared the birthday - Jan 23 - with famous revolutionary Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Sengupta’s family migrated to Kolkata from Barishal (now in Bangladesh) before the partition and he took up journalism in 1957 when he launched the Bengali weekly Bartaman, helped by a loan of Rs.500 from legendary Forward Bloc leader Hemanta Basu.

Three years later, Sengupta joined Anandabazar Patrika. He had a keen insight into politics, both at the national stage and West Bengal, and rose to become the paper’s political correspondent in 1965.

The post itself was a trendsetter in Bengali journalism, as it was the first time that a Kolkata-based daily had a political correspondent on its rolls.

Sengupta had an earthy and informal style of writing, sans literary embellishments, that had a tremendous connect with the readers.

His weekly columns on state politics, that incisively analysed every development in the political theatre, drew a huge readership.

Never shy of criticising the powers that be, Sengupta embraced a nine-month prison term during the emergency in 1975 for his write-ups against the Congress government.

In 1984, Sengupta left Anandabazar Patrika to launch his own daily, Bartaman, which is now the second largest Bengali morninger in Kolkata in terms of circulation.

A man of principles, Sengupta never published advertisements of liquor and tobacco firms in Bartaman.

“It was always my dream to bring out a paper that would be the voice of people at the grassroots. It is through Bartaman that I have tried to realise this dream,” one of his colleagues recalled him as saying often.

Throughout its existence, Bartaman has been sharply critical of the policies of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front that has been ruling the state since 1977. The Communists’ repeated attempts to browbeat him only imbued Sengupta with a greater zeal to point out the loopholes in the administration.

Sengupta’s column Rajya Rajniti (state politics) - for long a regular subject of discussion at tea stalls, political party offices as also among the creme de la creme of society - led in moulding the opinion of the masses particularly those opposed to the Left Front.

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