London: Calcutta bred lecturer based in London to contest the UK Parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on June 8. Rohit Dasgupta, born and brought up in Kolkata and graduated from Jadavpur University only eight years ago, will be contesting from East Hampshire seat on a Labour Party ticket.
He will be the first Bengali to be in the electoral fray in the UK.
Dasgupta, a lecturer at the Loughborough University, London, has been living in the UK for past eight years and became a member of the Labour Party seven years ago. He had graduated in comparative literature from JU in 2009.
“It is a great honour to be fighting a seat for Labour Party in this election and offer a credible alternative to the Tories,” Dasgupta said, describing East Hampshire as a ‘tough constituency’.
The Kolkata boy, however, is up against odds. The seat is a stronghold of the Conservative Party, which secured more than 50% votes in 2010 and 2015. Damian Hinds is representing the seat since 2010. Dasgupta’s campaign will focus on the issues of housing, education, health and fair living wage.
“I am campaigning on four main areas – building more social housing and caps on rent and rogue landlords, making education available to everyone and not burden students with debts after university, the national health service which is Labour’s biggest achievement providing free healthcare for all and a fair living wage,” he told HT.
Brexit, or Britain’s exit from the European Union, is one of the major issues in this election, apart from immigration, welfare schemes and workers’ rights.
British parliamentarians with Indian origin is nothing novel and as many as 10 persons with Indian origin were elected to the parliament in 2015. None of them, however, had any connection with Kolkata, once considered as the second city of the former British empire after London.
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“My politics is firmly rooted within left liberal socialism. I am opposed to all kinds of nationalism, a resurgence of which we see in UK, Europe and in India as well. I consider myself an internationalist,” Dasgupta added echoing a voice that is often heard in the campuses if Kolkata.
Born in Bhowanipur, Dasgupta studied at St. James School before enrolling at the JU. The university on the southern parts of the city is considered a hub for Leftwing activists and scholars, including ultra Left sympathisers. Dasgupta was also a member of Forum for Arts Students, a student body that was known for Left leanings.
In his first year at JU, he was elected as a student representative for the student’s union.
“When in Kolkata I was also campaigning for issues such as child abuse, queer rights, and gender violence and was associated with human rights charities,” Dasgupta told HT.
His parents live at Mahajati Nagar at Birati in the northern outskirts of Kolkata. His father used to work for power utility CESC, and mother was a homemaker.
Dasgupta received the formal letter informing him of his candidature on April 30.