It was the afternoon before Holi and most of the students were painted in myriad hues. Will green win over red, we asked. The answer is a unanimous yes. The obvious question follows: Do you want the change? This time, a lone voice makes itself heard in the chorus of affirmation.
While agreeing that the green sweep seems inevitable, Ritika Mukherjee confesses that she does not want Mamata Banerjee and her party to come to power. "We may have the Trinamool Congress forming the next government but personally I would want the Left to continue. We can foresee a change in the air, yet I feel the present government should continue since it has proved its worth by being in power for so long. I do not want a repetition of what happened in Singur with the Tatas. Banerjee acted as a major hindrance to what could have been a major industrial boost for the state," said the first year student of economics.
Ananya Sen is quick to disagree. "Absolute power corrupts," she says. "We have seen this government for long. I am not saying that Banerjee will make a great chief minister but she certainly seems to have great capabilities."
The girls, however, are well aware that even the Trinamool is not free of flaws. Yet, they feel Mamata Banerjee deserve a chance to prove her worth. While Neha Roy feels just one incident in Singur is not reason enough to write her off, Ananya and a few others stress that the Trinamool chief has stood up for people time and again.
With Singur and industrialisation, the discussion veers towards jobs. A good and secure job is top priority for these girls. "The Left has provided jobs in the IT sector but it's always nice to check out what new can happen," says Saheli Sen Gupta. "There is no scope for technical education in the state. We need courses in new sciences. May be we could have colleges for agricultural sciences."
Ruing the lack of opportunities and brain drain, Neha said: "We do not have opportunities here. People with degrees such as BTech have to settle for jobs at call centres. Today, a degree isn't enough. We need a job. If there are no jobs here, we would be left with no option but to move out of the city."
Another feature of the city that irritates Neha are the frequent bandhs. "Whenever I have spoken to people outside Bengal about Kolkata, the impression that they seem to have is that it is a city of strikes and that its people are lazy. Calling a strike can be no solution.
Ananya is quick to seize the opportunity. "That is why I say let's give Trinamool a chance. Maybe they can stop strikes. Most strikes in recent times have been led by the CPI(M)."
None of the girls seem happy with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's industrialisation plans. Not even Ritika. "West Bengal lacks the kind of infrastructure required to attract industries."
If it's lack of infrastructure in the city, it's lack of development in the villages. Ananya blames the Left Front government for the Maoist problem. "The present government is to be blamed. These people have no resources, they are deprived of basic rights and are left with no other option but to take the law in their hands."
Chips in Ritika: "I don't think Banerjee will do anything to control the Maoists for she is known to be lenient with them."
The other issues that seemed to concern the girls include corruption, law and order problem, eve-teasing and corruption.
The other members of the HT team that visited the campus were Nandini Guha, Sohini Bhattacharya & Subhendu Ghosh.