KOLKATA: Senior CPI (M) leader Jyoti Basu rebutted on 30 March BJP supremo Lalkrishna Advani’s remark to a news agency that he had met Jyoti Basu ‘covertly’ prior to the so-called ‘rathayatra’ that claimed the lives of hundreds across its bloody path. Jyoti Basu admitted to the meting quite freely and said that the meeting was overt rather than covert.

Jyoti Basu previously had a word with the CPI (M) Polit Bureau and with the then general secretary comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet before proceeding to meet Advani. The then Prime Minister V P Singh, too, had earlier prevailed upon Basu to speak to Advani towards dissuading the BJP leader from the ‘rathayatra’.

In the exchanges that followed between Basu and Advani, Basu told the latter that the purported ‘rathayatra’ would create disharmony and even rioting. Advani would not listen to Basu’s advice that he aborts the ‘programme.’

Later, Basu also met A B Vajpayee and asked him to prevent the ‘rathayatra’ but nothing came out of this meeting, too. Basu added to say when the late PV Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister Basu along with comrade Surjeet had telephoned him to initiate measures so that the Babari Masjid was not pulled down. The late Rao promised to do ‘something’ about the issue but in practice did nothing.

Incidentally Jyoti Basu recalled that when as Prime Minister A B Vajpayee came to Kolkata and met Basu he asked the Bengal chief minister as to the reasons why he, Basu, called the BJP a party that was ‘uncivilized and barbaric.’ Basu had replied that he said this because BJP was engaged in orchestrating riots in Gujarat, killing members of the minority communities with impunity, and that it had pulled down the Babari Masjid, causing riots to break out. After this strong repartee, Vajpayee had held his silence.