Jan 17th (Obituary)
By Saadia Azim
Kolkata, Jan. 17 – Ninety six year old Marxist leader Jyoti Basu struggled for life for sixteen days before breathing his last at 11.41 a.m on Sunday at the AMRI hospital at Kolkata. His struggle for life was evident from the tough fight he gave before the last. He was deeply loved and highly popular leader amongst people all over the country which was evident with concerns for his health from all quarters, be it supporters or detractors.
Critics though questioned his bourgeois mannerism yet his flawless English, his Bengali ‘bhadrolok’s’ appearance, his love for scotch did not anyway hinder his popularity amongst masses and he still remains the only democratically elected communist leader for more than two decades of the world.
Jyoti Babu as he was popularly known was born on 8th July 1914 in Kolkata. One of the pioneers of the Communist movement in India since 1945, he was the founder member of the CPIM since its inception in 1964. He remained the central committee member and politburo member till his last.
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He participated in the first general elections in the Indian subcontinent after independence in 1951 thus legitimizing the communist movement which was opposed to parliamentary democracy until then. A believer in Lenin’s philosophy to participate in the parliamentary system in order to expose parliamentary “cretinism” from within, and prepare the masses for participation in revolutionary antiparliamentary politics, he continued to be the first ever democratically elected chiefminister of an Indian state, continously for twenty three years.
He was a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) that was banned until 1951. He became the president of the board of editorial board of ‘Swadhinta’ the bengali mouth piece of the CPI. Later in 1964 he was suspended with 31 members of the National council of CPI. It was then that the CPI split and CPIM was formed with Jyoti Basu as the central committee and politburo member. Though he at times offered to vacate the post on grounds of his deteriorating health conditions he remained a special invitee in the politburo because of his stature.
He became the Chiefminister of the state in 1977 and remained so till he willingly announced to leave his chair on health grounds onNovember 6th 2000, a very rare trait amongst politicians. He had been the leader of the Opposition from 1957 till 1967 when the United front government came to power and he became the deputy chiefminister of the state.
A son of a Nishikant and Hemlata Basu he went to Loreto Convent Dharamtala in Kolkata. He later completed his secondary education from St. Xavier’s School and completed English Honours from Presidency College, Kolkata. Later on he went to U.K to study law. It was there that he got impressed by the communist movement and on his return in 1940 joined the Communist party of India to work as a trade union leader of the Railway workers Union.
He was married to Basanti Ghosh first who passed away in 1942. Later in 1948 he married Kamal Basu in 1952.
He is survived by his only son Chandan Basu. With his demise a complete era of Indian politics has comes to an end.