The veteran CPM leader who was admitted to AMRI Hospital on January first breathed his last on Sunday. An era came to an end with his demise leaving the CPM in a situation hard to cope with especially when it required the his presence in the wake of forthcoming Assembly elections in 2011. By Pallab Ghosh
With the demise of the veteran CPM leader Jyoti Basu, the ‘bhadrolok politics’ (gentleman politics) era came to an end. The news which was expected any moment especially after his condition deteriorating last night and the doctors had to place a pacemaker in order to regularize the heartbeats came at around 11:46 am due to multiple-organ failure. The news was officially announced by the CPM State Secretary Biman Bose who broke down while giving the news nad had be consoled by fellow comrade standing behind him. The Former West Bengal Chief Minister was admitted to the AMRI hospital in Salt Lake, Kolkata on the January first suffering from Pneumonia. His family was beside him when he died. The doctors attending to the veteran leader was trying hard to cure him but the condition was far from being stable and was continuously sinking compelling the doctors to conduct a special dialysis to which Basu responded successfully. Another dialysis was scheduled to take place on Sunday but it was not required since the inevitable had happened.
Back in the political arena the picture was much of the same. Leaders irrespective of the political differences were seen paying tribute to the 95 year old patriarch. “We shared a cordial relationship and I made regular visits to him seeking suggestions on political issues concerning West Bengal”, said Union Railway Minister, Mamta Bannerjee. “The part had series of meetings and agendas lined during the coming days which we have cancelled as a mark of respect to the leader”, added Bannerjee.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his condolence letter to Chandan Basu, said, “I was deeply grieved to learn of the sad demise of your father Jyoti Basu. The passing away of Basu from the scene marks the end of an era in the annals of Indian politics. In a political career spanning more than six decades, the veteran communist leader steered his party to power in West Bengal, leaving a legacy of uninterrupted rule by the Left Front that he forged through his leadership and legendary skills in building consensus”. “I have on so many occasions turned to him for suggestion regarding to national and state politics”, added Singh.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in her condolence message regarded Basu as a tireless crusader against communalism and warrior of social justice”. She fondly remembered as the driving force behind the UPA coalition government. She said though the coalition did not work yet we will always follow his ideals. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram who was in Kolkata immediately rushed to the hospital, “Jyoti Basu’s death is a colossal loss to the nation”. However, veteran CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee in a touching tribute said he felt like he has lost his father for the second time. “Jyoti babu tought us how stay connected to the masses”, he added.
West Bengal Chief Minister Budhhadeb Bhattacharya regarded Basu as the greatest leader said, “Jyoti babu was responsible in organizing the Left in West Bengal and will always be remembered for his contribution to the party”.
As chief minister of West Bengal for a record 23 years, his lasting contributions were land reforms, which gave land and security of tenure to millions of peasants, the vitalization of panchayat institutions, and the creation of an enduring atmosphere of secularism in the state. CPM Politburo leader Sitaram Yechuri remembered the veteran CPM patriarch as a role model for many including him and said, “Its an honour for me to have been associated with him, for nearly 21 years. I had the privilege of traveling together on many occasions”.
There are several occasions when the county saw a successful Chief Ministers emerging in the persona of Jyoti Basu who stood affirm in dealing with the communal forces. During 1984 riots when the Sikh community was targeted and violence loomed large in the country over Indira Gandhi’s assassination Bengal was among the few states that was less affected inspite of having a huge Sikh population in the state. It was Jyoti Basu who showing his far sightedness had call troops in the state apprehending out break of violence as soon as the news of assassination was made public by the Government. However, there are many instances though, where Basu proved wrong in taking and implementing policies especially imparting English in Government schools from class sixth and turning back to computer technology. However, he realized his mistake later when Budhhadeb Bhattacharya as Chief Minister started aggressive campaign to woe the foreign investors and bringing BPOs in the state. He will be always remembered for his ‘one liner’ replies in the press which often made him arrogant and rude.
Amidst the slogans of “Jyoti Basu amar rahe” (long live Jyoti Basu) and “Lal Salam Com. Jyoti Basu” the van carrying the body of the veteran CPI leader wrapped in the party flag left for the residence of his son, Chandan Basu, where the body was kept for sometime before it made its way for the Peace Heaven in Central Kolkata where the body will be kept till Tuesday when it will make its final journey.
A true atheist and real communist Basu had donated his entire body in 2003 for the medical research purpose. The Shushruta Eye Foundation that was frequented by the CPM leader for his eye check up successfully took the eyes after his death.
This also bring an end of the era of the ‘Navratnas’ as the nine leaders were fondly called who were instrumental in forming the CPI-M Politburo in 1964. Basu was the last existing among the ‘Navratnas’. It is an irony though that the same Politburo was uncomfortable over the veteran leader becoming prime minister of India in 1996. Though Basu who maintained a discipline in the party accepted the decision outright though he could hardly come to terms with the Politburo’s decision from within till his last breath and regarded it as a ‘historical blunder’. Not only Basu but many in the party too were of the opinion that the political scenario in India would have been different had Basu become the prime minister in 1996 which would put the Red brigade on a broad platform in the national political arena. “The decision of objecting to Jyoti babu becoming the prime minister was indeed a ‘historical blunder’ and I wish those in the Politburo could realize the implication of their decision since it would have given the country an efficient and strong prime minister”, said veteran Congress leader, Mani Shankar Iyer in his tribute to the CPM leader. Remembered for his land reforms Basu is regarded as a leader who realized the problems and difficulties faced by those attached to ground roots in the villages. CPM Politburo Chairperson Prakash Karat, man who influenced the CPI-M to block Basu from taking charge of the United Front government in 1996, said that the former West Bengal chief minister ‘was a great leader of the CPI-M, the Left movement and India. With his passing away, an era has passed.
Biman Bose met the press in the evening and apprised of the latest decision taken by the family of the departed leader which will donate the body of the CPM patriarch as per his wishes to the SSKM Hospital for medical research. The body of Jyoti Basu will be kept at the Peace Heaven in Central Kolkata till 9:30 am on Tuesday and will move to Writers Building then after. At 10:30 am. the body will be taken to Bidhan Sabha Bhawan and will be kept there for 4 hours before moving to CPM head quarters situated at Alimuddin Street at 2:30 pm where the body will be kept for some time enabling people to pay their last respect. The final journey will commence at the SSKM Hospital where the body will be donated to the authorities for medical research as per schedule.