Jyoti Basu - The towering communist leader passes away

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(From Various Sources) By Eugene Moodubelle

17 January 2010: Jyoti Basu, one of the greatest Communist leaders in India passed away at 11.47 am on Sunday, 17th January 2010 after 17 days of hospitalization for pneumonia at the age of 95 years. With his death an era in the Communist movement in India comes to an end. He had the distinction of being India’s longest serving Chief Minister of the West Bengal state from 1977 to 2000. He had been a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) since the founding of the party in 1964.

Born on 8th July 1914 in a Bengali family in Kolkata, Jyoti Basu had his education in Loretto School and later in St. Xavier’s School and was graduated in English from the Presidency College. Later, in 1935, Jyoti Basu went to England for higher studies in Law. While in England, he was attracted towards the Communist movement through the Communist Party of Great Britain. After completing his legal studies and becoming a Barrister in 1940, Jyoti Basu returned to India. Being influenced by the Marxist ideology, Jyoti Basu became involved in trade union activities and the Communist Party of India (CPI) deputed him to take up the cause of the railway workers in 1944.

Jyoti Basu’s active political career began when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Bengal in 1946. He acted as the leader of the opposition in the Bengal Assembly for a long time. He became quite active in leading agitations against the policies of the state government and became quite popular among the students, youth and workers. When the Communist Party of India was split in 1964, Jyoti Basu became one of the first members of the nine members Politburo of the newly formed Communist Party of India (Marxist). He became the Deputy Chief Minister in 1967 and 1969 when United Front Government was formed in West Bengal following the defeat of the Congress Party.

With the popularity of Jyoti Basu and the CPI (M), the party came to power in West Bengal in 1977 and Jyoti Basu became the Chief Minster and continued to be in this post without a break till 2000 for a period of record 23 years. In 1996, Jyoti Basu had an opportunity to become the Prime Minister of India as the leader of the United Front Government. However, the Politburo of the CPI (M) took a decision not to join the central government and Jyoti Basu had to decline the offer of Prime Ministership which he termed as a ‘historic blunder’ later. The refusal of Jyoti Basu to accept the offer catapulted H.D. Devegowda of the Janata Dal to the Prime Minister’s chair.

In 2000, Jyoti Basu resigned from the Chief Minister’s post of West Bengal on health ground and was succeeded by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.  As the health of Jyoti Basu began to deteriorate due to pneumonia, he was admitted to AMRI hospital at Salt Lake in Kolkata on 1st January 2010. There was no tangible improvement in the health of the veteran leader and on 16th January 2010 his health took a turn for the worse with multiple organ failure. Finally, the end came on Sunday, 17th January 2010 at 11.47 AM.

The death of Jyoti Basu, one of the most respected political leaders of India has been condoled by most of the political leaders of all major political parties. The funeral of late Jyoti Basu will take place on Tuesday, 19th January 2010. 

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Comments on this Article
Victor Castelino, Moodubelle/Dubai Mon, January-18-2010, 7:54
Apart from his ideology which is his fundamental right under the Indian constitution, late Mr Jyothi Basu was a great and honest leader. Being a friend, supporter and admirer of Blessed Mother Theresa, when Mother Theresa went to her heavenly abode Basu ordered a state funeral for her after which the central government had to join in and invite foreign dignitaries for the funeral as state guests. He was very close to Nehru-Gandhi family in spite of political differences. Whether he was an atheist or not matters a little. After all he was a very good human being. May his sould rest in peace.
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