By SUNIL Sonkar
Kolkata, Jan. 17 — Former chief minister of West Bengal and veteran communist leader of India breathed his last at 11.47 am. on Sunday in Kolkata after a prolonged illness. 95-year-old Jyoti Basu served as West Bengal’s CM for 23 long years and in 1996 he almost became the prime minister of India.
Pratibha Patil, President:
“Basu earned the unique distinction of being the longest-serving Chief Minister of any state from the late seventies to the year 2000.” President Pratibha Patil condoled Jyoti Basu’s death and said that the nation has lost an eminent statesman.
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister
“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.” PM Singh said conveying his heartfelt condolences to late Basu’s family members and uncountable comrades, friends, followers and admirers. He added further, “I feel a deep sense of personal sadness at the passing away of this great patriot, political luminary and intellectual.”
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, West Bengal Chief Minister:
“We are deeply saddened by the death of our leader Jyoti Basu. Known as living legend he was respected by all sections of the people. He was on the forefront of communist movement since 1940s.” Bhattacharjee said at the headquarters of CPI-M at Alimuddin Street.
P Chidambaram, Home Minister
Jyoti Basu “strode like a colossus on the Indian political scene for several decades. He was a great patriot, a great democrat, a great Parliamentarian and a great source of inspiration.” Chidambaram was on a visit to Kolkata and he rushed to the AMRI Hospitals. He also added, “I offer my sincere condolence to his family and the people of West Bengal.”
Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister
“He was a towering personality and perhaps in contemporary politics, there was no other personality as much charismatic as he was.” Mukherjee recalled Jyoti Basu’s contribution in the formation of UPA government in 2004 supported by Left. He also added, “Perhaps he is the longest serving Chief Minister in the contemporary period. He led the Left movement in this country for a long period of time.”
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Shakeel Ahmad, spokesperson of Congress:
“It’s a very sad development not only for West Bengal or CPI-M but for the country as a whole. The country has lost one of its worthiest sons.” He described veteran CPI-M leader as one of the India’s “worthiest sons”. He also added that Jyoti Basu stood for simplicity and firmness in politics as well as in public life. Ahmad mentioned that death of Jyoti Basu is a loss for the nation.
Arun Jaitley, senior leader of BJP and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha:
Jyoti Basu was a man “committed to the service of his people, his ideology and a sense of idealism.” He added that in Indian politics Basu was one of the tallest contemporary leaders. Jaitley further mentioned, “He was a politician of high credibility whose loss will be felt by the entire nation.”
L K Advani, senior leader of BJP:
“He was a stalwart… a great leader. He held the CPM fort in West Bengal for a long time… The Communist movement has been affected. Basu was in the line of great leaders like EMS Namboodiripad, Bhupesh Gupta and Indrajit Gupta… Our ideologies were different. Still, going by his greatness, I respect him and pay my tributes.”
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Former Prime Minister and senior BJP leader:
“He was an able administrator and a hard working political leader. He not only created a record for being chief minister of West Bengal for the longest duration but took several visionary steps… His demise has ended a chapter in politics.”
AB Bardhan, leader of Communist Party of India (CPI):
“He also fought to the end. We express our heartfelt sadness on his demise.” Bardhan also said that Jyoti Basu fought for the poor and for the downtrodden.
Debabrata Biswas, General Secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI):
“He was an icon of working class movement and a model for good governance. He was an able administrator and good human being. His rule of more than quarter century has changed the face of rural Bengal and paved the path for agriculture and industrial development.”