Even at the age of 76 having lost his vision completely, his bond with and emotions for Ganashakti, the Bengali mouthpiece of CPI(M), is as strong as it was in 1967, when he started selling the newspaper in the Serampore-Baidyabati-Seoraphuli belt of Hooghly district, an industrial area where the Left could sense its new dawn.
Meet Benoy Sengupta, the oldest distributor of Ganashakti, whose voluntary journey in selling the paper started with its birth in 1967. It was then published as an evening daily.
The 76-year-old, dyed-in-the- wool Marxist was felicitated on January 3, 2017 by the CPI(M) politburo member and the party’s state secretary in West Bengal, Suryakanta Mishra, on the occasion of the 50th birth anniversary of the paper.
According to him, his daily routine in the initial years of publication of the mouthpiece was like this: boarding the Bandel local from Seoraphuli station sharp at 2.20 pm to reach Howrah, from where he reached the party’s Kolkata office and collect copies for distribution.
“After collecting those copies, I used to return to Serampore and headed first to the local party office. From there my trips started carrying copies of Ganashakti on my bicycle and selling them door to door in the Serampore- Baidyabati- Seoraphuli belt,” said the man who never married.
Recalling the hindrances of selling Ganashakti during the turbulent period from 1967 to 1977 -- Bengal had two United Front governments between followed by a violence-ridden term of Congress in these 10 years -- he said he was attacked several times, beaten up and wounded by activists of Congress that ruled Bengal between 1972 1977.
“However, those attacks could not deter me. The red flag never lost its appeal to me despite the persecution,” he said. In 1986, when Ganashakti was converted to a full-fledged morning daily, his task of selling the paper got a boost.
Even now with his falling age and lack of vision, his bonding with the party mouthpiece is strong. “I have to depend on my local comrades, who read out the entire newspaper for me. These days, when I hear about attacks on Ganashakti, I feel the same pain I used to feel earlier,” he said.
However, he is confident the low CPI(M) is going through currently in Bengal will not prevail for long. “CPI(M) will regain mass support and march ahead and so will Ganashakti,” Sengupta said on Tuesday, almost muttering to himself.
Probably his belief prompted the packed audience at Promod Dasgupta auditorium on Tuesday to raise slogans in chorus, “Comrade Benoy Sengupta Red Salute— Red Salute, Red Salute,” when he was felicitated.