Agartala: The term “Hollywood” has a global appeal. The famous hills of California symbolise perhaps the biggest film industry in the world. However, even the most ardent Hollywood fan will admit that the term has no connection with the northeastern state of Tripura.
Hollywood Chakma, however, disagrees.
If things go as per plan, Hollywood could become an MLA in the Tripura Legislative Assembly on March 2.
Chakma, contesting elections on a TIPRA Motha ticket from the Pecharthal assembly constituency under the North Tripura district, is a youth leader groomed and mentored by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarman. Chakma is one of the most trusted lieutenants of TIPRA who started his political career with the Congress party and followed the footsteps of Debbarman to build TIPRA from scratch.
Speaking to EastMojo, Chakma threw light on his political journey so far and the key issues he wanted to address if elected to the state assembly. He explained how his bumpy ride in politics helped him face new challenges. The elections, he says, are a test of his merit.
Of course, no conversation with him can avoid the most asked question: his name. Jokes aside, Chakma recalls the taunts and bullying he faced in school. He even tried to change his name, but when his father, a retired headmaster, explained why his name bears significance, he changed his mind.
“When I was in school, my mates used to tease me for my name. I was so upset that I wanted to change it and even consulted my advocate uncle. But, my father intervened and explained the importance of the name.”
Young Hollywood’s father explained to him his belief that when infants are given names, they also possess some qualities of what the word signifies.
“Like when someone is given the name Raavan, the person automatically gets some qualities of Raavan. So, my father said he wanted me to become a big shot in life. And that is why they thought Hollywood would suit my personality. This is the mystery behind my name,” Chakma told EastMojo.
Chakma attributed his rise in politics entirely to TIPRA supremo, as he always saw Debbarman as a role model in politics. He even quit his studies midway to work under the guidance of Debbarman.
“My political career began 15 years ago when I was in college. I was a student at the Kailashahar degree college and traditionally the area was a Congress bastion. A lot of my friends were in the NSUI council and often we used to meet local Congress MLA Birajit Sinha, now the President of the Tripura Pradesh Congress committee,” he added.
“My association with Bubagra (Debbarman) started when I first saw him attending a public rally in my village. He was accompanied by Rahul Gandhi then. I got the opportunity to meet him in Delhi during an event of Congress ST Cell. In our first interaction, he was quite impressed with me and told me to join Congress. Later, he nominated me as a Youth Congress General Secretary for the internal polls and subsequently, I was elected the vice president of the Tripura Pradesh Youth Congress Committee (TPYC). Before leaving Congress to form TIPRA, I served as the vice president of TPYC,” he recounted.
Chakma said he was always with Debbarman during critical times. “I have been with Bubagra always: from his struggle with the Congress and dealing with in-fighting to building TIPRA as a formidable political entity. Now, he has again shown his trust in me by making me a contestant in the crucial polls,” he said.
When asked about his nomination, he said, “Bubagra (Debbarman) wants to establish me as a strong leader. This is why I have been fielded against a sitting cabinet minister, Santana Chakma. When I saw my name for Pecharthal, I was a little upset. But later, I realised the fight should be challenging. I have accepted that. I may not have a team or a strong presence here, but my strength is Bubagra’s blessings.”
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Chakma also highlighted what issues he wanted to address if elected to the state assembly. “My priority will be healthcare in rural areas. In my village, Madhab Master Para, the health infrastructure is very poor. For minor problems, people have to travel to Agartala. That should be addressed first.”
The youth leader also thinks the existing political system has to be reformed. “A reform is very important. People who have nothing for themselves rally behind political parties to get something. People have a lot of expectations from a political party which is impossible to deliver. I feel people should have enough livelihood opportunities and that is the second thing. If our demand for Greater Tipraland is fulfilled, we shall ensure that the economic and social rights of every individual are protected,” Chakma told EastMojo.
Now, whether Tripura gets a Hollywood MLA or not, only time will tell.
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