Basu skips voting after suffering a fall

KOLKATA,13th MAY: CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu, whose advanced age forced him for the first time to stay away from casting his vote, made enquiries about the Third Front from Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat who was in the city to cast her vote.

The nonagenarian leader, who suffered another fall in his bathroom early this morning, wanted to know the prospects of the Third Front alliance. Ms. Karat told The Hindu that she found the senior leader fully alert when she called on him at his Salt Lake residence in the morning. “He wanted to know about the position of the Third Front and what my assessment was. I told him that we will have to wait till May 16 to know the results.” Mr. Basu was also keen to find out the seat-by-seat position in West Bengal, she said.

“I found him very alert and cheerful although he had suffered some pain because of his fall,” Ms. Karat said. West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi also called on Mr. Basu. “He is trying to get over the fall, he is frail but as always extremely alert, and full of humour and wisdom,” he said.

Sources at Mr. Basu’s residence said that he suffered some minor injuries on his shinbone because of the fall. He was examined by his physician, who saw no cause for worry. He was watching TV every now and then to stay abreast of the developments, his close aide said.

Mr. Basu was hospitalised in September 2008 following a head injury he suffered after a fall. Medical tests revealed that he had developed a blood clot in his brain. However, he was released after being kept under observation and medication at the hospital as surgery was not favoured in view of his advanced age.

The party veteran said earlier this week that he would not be able to venture out to exercise his franchise for the first time, during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. His vote lay in the Barasat constituency, where Sudin Chattopadhyaya of the Forward Bloc faces Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of Trinamool, among others.

Right after the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, he regretted that he would not be able to campaign for his party because of his infirm health. Video recordings of his speech were played at some of the elections meetings.

But Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said that it appeared to her that Mr. Basu’s not voting in the final phase was an expression of his “no confidence” in the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Acknowledging that Mr. Basu was unwell, she said this was the first time that he did not vote. “We respect his age. He could have used a wheelchair or gone in an ambulance to vote [had he wanted to],” Ms. Banerjee added.

Mr. Basu, who felt that Ms. Banerjee’s remarks did not warrant a rebuttal, said he had dedicated his entire political life to the party. He hoped that the Left Front candidates would be victorious in the Lok Sabha polls.

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