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April 20, 2011

Learning experience for IIM interns in Trinamool

Learning experience for IIM interns in Trinamool

Winning an election is tougher than cracking CAT, the two IIM students interning for the Trinamul Congress were certain after their first poll rally on Tuesday.

The students from the Joka campus, along with party workers, had just walked 7km on uneven suburban roads in stifling heat, dodging cattle and open drains every few steps, seeking votes all the time.

"I always thought cracking the Common Admission Test (CAT) and getting into an IIM is the toughest challenge. But today I realised that campaigning for an election is even more difficult," said 24-year-old Hariharan Sriram, holding a mineral water bottle and wiping sweat off his brow.

He, along with his 27-year-old batchmate Mansha Tandon, had been campaigning for Bratya Basu, who is contesting from Dum Dum, and Chandrima Bhattacharjee, contesting from Dum Dum North.

The rally had started at a playground in Subhasnagar, near Dum Dum Cantonment station, around 5pm. The men were carrying party flags while the women were in white saris with the twin-flower symbol of Trinamul printed on them. The two candidates boarded a mini-truck sporting photographs of Mamata Banerjee. Hariharan and Mansha chose to walk.

"For us it is a learning experience. We need to be among the people to know what they are thinking and what their expectations are. That way, we will be able to provide better feedback to the leaders," said the Delhi girl, who has a degree from the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

She and Hariharan, a BTech from Chennai, have both bagged jobs with an FMCG company that they will take up after completing the internship. After formulating strategies at Trinamul Bhavan for a week, they requested the leadership for "more exposure on the field". Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, an MBA, joined the two for the rally.

"We talk about poverty and people at the bottom of the pyramid but never make an effort to witness the ground reality. That is why we wanted to be a part of the roadshow," said Mansha.

Though "overawed" by the number of people, she adjusted quickly and joined others as they shouted slogans like "jora phool e chhap din" and "bodla noi, bodol chai".

"I have picked up some Bengali while working at Trinamul Bhavan," she said.

Hariharan was impressed by how the rally was organised. "There were so many vehicles moving in narrow lanes. But everything was synchronised. This certainly is a lesson in leadership," he said.

Does he remember the last time he walked such a long distance?

"This is the toughest question I have faced in a long time," smiled Hariharan.