CPI(M) planning Basu museum in Rajarhat

Debashis Konar, TNN, Oct 11, 2010, 06.27am IST

KOLKATA: With Rajarhat being rechristened Jyoti Basu Nagar last week, CPI(M) leaders are planning to set up a museum in the township in memory of the departed leader.

Two CPI(M) leaders, Rabin Deb and Avik Dutta, went to Basu's residence, Indira Bhawan in Salt Lake, and collected some of his belongings on Sunday. Basu had lived there for the last few years of his life.

The word coming out is that CPI(M) leaders, being apprehensive about the outcome of the 2011 Assembly polls after a spate of election drubbings, are not eager on the museum coming up at Indira Bhawan, a government property. If the government changes next year, a museum there might lead to unnecessary complications. The idea is to set it up on a private property in Rajarhat, though no location has been finalised yet, a senior leader said.

Party insiders said that Deb and Dutta went to Indira Bhawan to go through the late leader's belongings and decide on which ones would be displayed in the museum.

Both the leaders were tightlipped about the issue, but party insiders said that Deb, a state secretariat member, had picked up some of Basu's belongings, which would be handed over to party functionaries at Alimuddin Street.

A life-size wax statue of the Marxist leader standing at Indira Bhawan will be shifted to the museum. Even the chair on which Basu used to sit is likely to be among the exhibits. The memorial will have a photo gallery featuring important moments from the leader's life. Party leaders are on the lookout for rare photographs of Basu. Copies of these will also be sold to visitors.

Documentaries on Basu, news clippings and films showcasing the leader will also be there for the visitors and specially the new generation to know about the legendary Marxist chief-minister.

Some of Basu's favourite books will also be on display at the museum and along with books on Basu. Speeches and the writings of Basu will be a major attraction for the visitors.

The party leaders also have plans to sell all compilations of Basu's lectures. There will be an audio-video section at the museum where speeches of Basu as CM and CPM leader will be aired. These cassettes and CDs will also be in the purchase section.

However, Basu's former aide Joykrishna Ghosh, who holds office in Indira Bhawan, denied that any item belonging to the leader was taken out by Deb and Dutta on Sunday. He said that all the belongings of Basu were intact at Indira Bhawan.

Rajarhat-Newton rechristened 'Jyoti Basu Nagar'

Kolkata, Oct 7th, 2010: The Rajarhat-Newtown, located on the city's North-Eastern fringe and sprawled over a land area of 3,080 hectares, was today named after CPI(M) patriarch late Jyoti Basu, who breathed his last in January this year.

Addressing a huge crowd that stood in the rain for hours to be present at the occasion, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said that the town was a result of years of planning by the State government and Jyoti Basu had also been closely involved during the initial stages. Chief Minister pointed out that “those who gave their land for the project have not been forgotten and that most of them will find jobs and homes within Jyoti Basu Nagar.” It was in the year 1995, the township was envisaged by Basu, the Chief Minister recalled.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was also present, sharing the dais with Mr. Bhattacharjee and senior leaders of several political parties.Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and other party leaders, however, stayed away.

Comparing the naming of the town after Jyoti Basu with that of the nearby Salt Lake area after another political stalwart of the State, Bidhan Chandra Roy, also a former Chief Minister, Mr. Chatterjee said that “the process of urbanisation cannot be stopped in the State.” People are continuously pouring into cities from villages in quest of a better life, he said.

Speaking about the vision for Jyoti Basu Nagar, Mr. Bhattacharjee said that once the town was fully developed, ten lakh people will live there permanently and another five lakh will find employment in the various offices and knowledge-based industry that will be set up there. Besides, a Rabindranath Tagore campus, housing the works of the poet, would come up in the township.

“For historical reasons, Kolkata has remained the only major city in the State. But, 70 lakh people live in Kolkata and the pressure on the city is far too much,” he added.

"It is remarkable that such a huge project with so many roads and houses had been implemented without any government-money,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said, appreciating the efforts of cabinet colleague and Minister for Housing, Gautam Deb.

Mr. Bhattacharjee also pointed out that about 50 percent of the town's housing facilities had been set aside for people from the lower and middle classes. Around 50 per cent of the township would comprise human habitation, including water bodies, and an art gallery be set up on a land area of ten cottahs, Mr Bhattacharjee added. The Chief Minister also unveiled the plaque for a children's park in the area.

''The statelite town will ease the pressure borne by Kolkata. People hailing from both rich and middle classes would reside in the township that will also house a financial hub armed with banking facilities,'' Mr Bhattacharjee informed and said facities for opening embassies would also be provided.

Addressing the gathering, state Minister for Housing Gautam Deb said the township had so far witnessed an investment of Rs 13,000 crore, adding altogether 20,000 IT personnel were working in various units across the area.

Somnath sets up health centre, names it after Jyoti Basu

Press Trust of India

Posted online: Mon Oct 04 2010, 04:02 hrs

Santiniketan (WB) : Announcing his decision to do social work after retirement from politics, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has set up a health centre for the poor and named it after his ‘mentor’ Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu.

“My age does not suit active politics anymore. Before my retirement from politics I had planned to do social work. I want to do something for the common man through social service,” the former CPI(M) leader said after inaugurating ‘Jyoti Basu Seva Kendra’ here on Saturday.

Run by Niramal Chandra Binapani Trust, set up by Chatterjee and named after his late parents, the ‘seva kendra’ would provide medical help to the poor and needy.

“I have named it after Basu, as it was he who had influenced and inspired me most in my life,” Chatterjee said during the inauguration on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. PTI



Time’s work A young Jyoti Basu (second from left) in a family photo in Nagapada

House Warming

Bangladesh plans a memorial at Jyoti Basu’s ancestral village

Sandeep Bhushan

We drive 10 km down the Dhaka-Chittagong highway and swing into the interiors, only to crawl along the narrow road meandering under a canopy of banana and palm leaves. Strewn on either side are white shipla or water lilies, Bangladesh’s national flower. Beyond the road, as far as the eye can see, farmers in quaint hand-made boats are fishing in water-logged paddy fields. After about 10 km, we come upon, and stare bewitched at, the Meghna river—a tributary of the Brahmaputra but just as mighty and expansive. Here the road turns a bend, suddenly bringing into view Chowdhury Para, a hamlet in Barodi pargana of the Sonargaon subdivision. In this nondescript village is located the ancestral house of Jyoti Basu, the late Marxist leader, one who shaped the redoubtable election-winning CPI(M) regime in West Bengal and dominated Bengal politics for three decades.

Chowdhury Para has acquired fame here in recent weeks, courtesy the Bangladesh government’s decision to convert Basu’s ancestral house, called Nagapada, into a library-cum-tourist complex. This could well inaugurate a new chapter in Indo-Bangladesh relations, often marked by suspicion, animosity and, occasionally, armed skirmishes along the porous border. It could—who knows—even become a symbol of common civilisational links between the two countries, torn asunder so cruelly six decades ago.

It isn’t difficult for us to locate Nagapada, a two-storeyed structure squatting, rather gloomily, on 2.04 acres. This was the residence of Jyoti Basu’s father, Nishikanta Bose, who later took on the other variant spelling of Bose—Basu. Though the East Pakistan government impounded much of what Nishikanta owned as enemy property after Partition, Nagapada’s relatively small size suggest a modest land-holding. On the ground floor are two rooms and a public meeting place; a staircase leads to another two rooms and a drawing room upstairs.

Shahidul and family at the house (Photographs by Rakib Ahmed)

Time hasn’t spared Nagapada—the paint has peeled off, the driveway linking the entrance to the rear is overgrown with weeds. Yet, miraculously, a piece of the past survives here, not only through the framed, sepia-faded family photos that still hang on the walls, or the odd surviving armchair or bedstead. It is nurtured by the memory of 80-year-old Mohammmed Shahidul, the owner and caretaker of Basu’s ancestral house.

The government’s decision to convert Nagapada into a tourist complex should have enthused Shahidul, render light as it would his task of preserving the zamindari abode of Nishikanta. Instead, he is inconsolable at its very mention. Subjected to the whims of history—two partitions and torn homes—he fears the project would blight his last days. “It will be painful, very, very painful if I am asked to leave, at this stage in life,” he laments amid loud sobs. You can’t but empathise—four generations of his family, starting with his mother Ayatonissa, have lived in Nagapada. This is his home; he has nowhere to go.

After he recovers, he talks of olden days, about the zamindari. From Shahidul’s account, it seems Nishikanta came from Bikrampur, and married Sharatchandra Das’s only daughter, Hemlata Das, Jyoti Basu’s mother. He settled in this village, but in another house, which hasn’t survived. When Shahidul was 15, the Boses or Basus left Chowdhury Para for good. Shahidul’s mother Ayatonissa, a family retainer, got Nagapada; the other building where Nishikanta Bose had stayed was gifted to her brother Abdul Ghaffar. The property transfer was executed through power of attorney.

The ambiguities of history notwithstanding, most here fondly remember Dr Nishikanta Bose, a doctor who attended poor patients for free. “And when times were bad and crops failed, the Boses would waive the land revenue of the sharecroppers,” says Shahidul. Agrees another older denizen, Zakir, “Bose was a public-spirited doctor who would visit his patients at home, particularly those who were in serious condition.” In those days, it was considered unthinkable for the zamindar to visit a ryot’s home—and many in the village wonder at what we today consider an ordinary gesture. The family’s zamindari was also benign, even benevolent, in comparison to other estates. As Rahmatullah recalls, “Zamindar Nishikanta Bose was unlike other zamindars who often perpetrated atrocities on tenants.”

Basu’s ancestral house in Bangladesh (Photographs by Rakib Ahmed)

Memory’s Last Stand

  • Nagapada is Jyoti Basu’s ancestral house. It’s located in Chowdhury Para of Sonargaon subdivision, 20 km from Dhaka
  • It’s a two-storeyed house, built on 2.04 acres
  • The government plans to convert it into a library-cum-tourist complex, and a memorial. Expected to be complete in 2012.
  • Those living in Nagapada for four generations fear eviction


Jyoti Basu, too, never forgot the caretakers of Nagapada. Dates don’t come to him easily at this age, but Shahidul recalls meeting Basu in Writer’s Building and in the Basu household in Calcutta. He says the leader would affectionately address him as ‘Kaka’ and ‘Baboo’. For his part, Basu could visit Chowdhury Para only twice—in January 1987 and November 1999.

Gen Ershad was in power in 1987. Senior journalist Rahman Jahangir recalls that Basu landed in Chowdhury Para in a helicopter and addressed an impromptu gathering of locals. The one single memory of that speech which stands out, says Jahangir, was Basu’s repeated reference to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as ‘Mujib’, a near-blasphemy in these parts, where even the leader’s bitterest detractors would address him as Bangabandhu. The two leaders became friends during the Awami League’s government-in-exile that operated out of Calcutta, spearheading the fight against Pakistan. “The Communists played a key part in hosting nearly 10 million Bangladeshi refugees, which neither Mujib nor his daughter Sheikh Hasina ever forgot,” says Jahangir.

Basu next visited Bangladesh in 1999, at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who perhaps wanted to show her appreciation of the salutary role he played in India ratifying the treaty that assured supply of the Ganga waters to Bangladesh for 30 years. “No Bangladeshi leader, not even Sheikh Mujib, had managed what his daughter achieved. Jyoti Basu helped brighten Hasina’s image as the leader who had almost achieved the impossible for Bangladesh,” adds Jahangir.

No wonder then that Hasina has put her formidable weight behind the idea of converting Nagapada into a library-cum-tourist complex. Says Awami League leader Obaidul Qader, who has been entrusted to oversee the project, “The PM has also cleared my proposal for the construction of a memorial. It will be completed by 2012.” A pause later, he adds, “He is a great leader of the subcontinent. And he was from Bangladesh. So he was a Bangladeshi as well. The people here love him.”


OUTLOOK Magazine | Sep 13, 2010


Jyoti Basu Nagar beckons Rajarhat New Town

TNN, Aug 26, 2010, 12.58am IST

KOLKATA: Come October, Rajarhat New Town will be rechristened Jyoti Basu Nagar. The children's park here will also be named after the country's longest-serving chief minister. Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) plans to celebrate the naming ceremony of the township -- close to Salt Lake aka Bidhannagar named after Basu's senior and former CM Bidhan Chandra Roy -- with various cultural programmes through the month.

"We will install a statue of Jyoti Basu at the new township. Chief minister Buddadeb Bhattacharjee will be present on the occasion," said state housing minister Gautam Deb, who has reportedly sent an invite to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with a request to lay the foundation stone of the business hub, Dalhousie.

"We want the PM to lay the foundation stone for the project. Many senior central government officials will be present on the occasion," said Deb, who also planned to invite railway minister Mamata Banerjee even as she had stayed away from a similar programme at New Town earlier.

Announcing Rs 250 crore for Metro to share the cost of setting up a tube network up to Rajarhat, the minister added, "We will give land for free and also inform Banerjee about it."

Upbeat about Infosys chairman NR Narayana Murthy seeking a presence at New Town, Deb said, "Murthy had positive talks with the

CM and state IT minister Debes Das. Infosys officials saw the land and wanted to know how much floor area ratio (FAR) they could get. We will give them the best deal because the CM too is keen on having Infosys in the state," Deb said.

With plans of a government school, college and hospital in the new township, he added, "We have allotted 20 acre to SSKM hospital for setting up its new campus. We will also try and get a hospital here along the lines of AIIMS with the help of Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad."

With 20,000 flats reportedly ready for an inauguration on September 6, the minister said, "We have requested Banerjee to hand over the keys to the occupants, but a reply from her is still awaited. We had also invited Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, but he conveyed his inability to come." This apart, there will be 10,000 new flats for the lower income group, of which 5,000 flats will be reserved for landlosers.

Deb took the opportunity to clear the controversy over distribution of plots to individuals under Hidco chairman and special quotas.

"We have so far distributed 296 plots to individuals and cooperatives under the chairman's quota and 184 plots under the special quota. Transparency has been maintained in the entire process," the minister added.


Jyoti Basu’s house in Bangladesh being converted into a tourist centre

By Rahman Jahangir

Dhaka, Aug 17 (APP)- Bangladesh is going to honour veteran Indian Communist leader and former West Bengal Chief Minister late Jyoti Basu by setting up a library and a tourist centre at his ancestral house in Chowdhury Para, Barodi, under Sanargaon sub-district, about 20 km from the capital. Following a directive from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to this effect, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs finalised the decision in a recent meeting with its Secretary Hedayetullah al Mamun. The tourism ministry has also given consent to the proposal.

Since the government is now waiting to get a nod from his family members living in Kolkata, the foreign ministry has asked the Bangladesh’s Deputy High Commissioner in Kolkata to obtain the permission from his family members, as Bangladesh wants to preserve the house having memories of the veteran Bengali leader.

Jyoti Basu was born on July 8, 1914 in Kolkata in an upper middle-class Bengali family, but his father Nishikanta Basu, a doctor by profession, hailed from the village of Barodi in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh.

Basu, during his last visit to Bangladesh in 1999, had visited his ancestral house and expressed his desire to the Bangladesh government to convert the house into a library. He regularly enquired about the present condition of the house till his death on January 17.

After his death, during discussion on a condolence motion in the Bangladesh parliament to pay respect to Basu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had promised preservation of his memories in Bangladesh by setting up a library at his ancestral house.

Among others, Sheikh Hasina had attended the funeral of the CPM leader in Kolkata. He had good relations with Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and Hasina had great respect for Basu. As the chief minister of West Bengal, Basu had played a crucial role in reaching an agreement on sharing of water of the river Ganges in 1996 after Hasina came to power.


Basu’s political journey to get a jatra rendition

By Sreecheta Das

INDIAN EXPRESS, Posted online: Wed Jul 14 2010, 02:50 hrs

Kolkata : Some have termed it a gimmick, others a propaganda but Raja Sarkar of Arya Opera is not wary of the criticisms for his decision to stage Jananeta Comrade Jyoti Basu — a jatra-opera on the life and times of the legendary leader.

The jatra, focusing on the entire political career of the country’s longest serving chief minister, will be staged first on September 17, coinciding with the Vishwakarma Puja celebrations.

Sarkar, who is both the script-writer and the director of the jatra, will begin the rehearsals from August 18.

Sitting inside the tiny, congested office of the 40-year old Arya Opera, located in the bylanes of Chitpur, the hub of Bengal’s jatra — a form of folk theatre depending on melodrama and hyperbole — Goutam Chakraborty, the producer, said he had conceptualised the jatra the very next day after Basu’s demise. “Later, I sat with Raja to give a concrete shape to my ideas, and the project was finalised,” he added.

With its penchant for bringing alive political themes, the Bengali jatras in the past have depicted the lives and times of several political figures ranging from Spartacus to Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin; from Hitler to Subhash Chandra Bose and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.

“I personally admire Jyoti Basu and his political pragmatism. Like any other human being, I am sure there were some faults in his character too. But for me, his merits are rare. I wanted the people to take a trip through the life of this legend,” said Sarkar, who will be performing Basu on stage. To play the roles of Somnath Chatterjee and Subhash Chakrobarty, who were close to Basu, the actors have not been decided yet. The jatra will begin with a scene of Basu breathing his last in a hospital, and from there it will take off in a flashback mode, depicting every significant event in the leader’s life — starting from the time he returned to India after completing his law in England.

“We have tried to divide Basu’s life into three parts. We will focus from the time when he first actively joined parliamentary elections in 1946, followed by his involvement with the food movements like Tebhaga movement, and his undeniable role behind the forming of the Left Front in 1976 and then again in 1979,” said Sarkar.

“It is very difficult to capture the wide spectrum of Basu’s political life in a two-and-a-half to three-hour long jatra. We don’t have many artists also. Many cast members will have to play more than one role,” Sarkar added.

Emphasising that the jatra is strictly based on the political career of Basu, Chakraborty said, “To keep the length short we had to entirely chop out his personal life. Even Chandan Basu and Kamal Basu or his granddaughter could not be fitted in.”

When Mallika cooked for Basu

TNN, Jul 23, 2010, 01.03am IST

KOLKATA: Tossing her cascading curls, as Mallika potters around in her squeaky clean kitchen, dicing cauliflower florets and potatoes and heating up desi seasonings with bay leaves, cumin seeds and red chillies, she looks the quintessential officegoer rustling up a dinner after a hard day's work.

As director of a PR firm in London, she leads a busy professional life, but loves doing her own cooking for the family after a long commute. There's a difference here, though. She is also doing it for the camera to teach busybodies on the net the secrets of easy and healthy Indian cooking. And now, she is all set to spice up India with the launch of her cookbook, "Miss Masala: Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living", based on her popular blog www.quickindiancooking.com, on July 23 in the Capital. It was launched in Kolkata on July 21.

Cooking comes to this eldest granddaughter of the former chief minister Jyoti Basu naturally. "In our family, everyone is a foodie, my grandfather loved good food. I never found him cooking, but my grandmother did and so did my parents. My father cooks awesome roast lamb. My mother is also a great cook. Actually, everyone at home loves to talk about food. So, we would be discussing what to have for dinner while having lunch," remembered Mallika who lives in London with her husband and a toddler. "Miss Masala" has already been launched in the UK. The anecdotal book, full of hilarious tales and frank tips, makes for a rivetting read.

During her university days in England (she did her masters in journalism there), she started yearning for home-cooked food. "I thought I must start cooking myself," said the 32-year-old, who had grown weary of takeaways during her student days.

Mallika's mother sent her a copy of the "National Indian Association of Women Cookbook". She also culled recipes from her grandmother's culinary oeuvre. The result was practical cooking, tasty and healthy. Cooking became a habit after some time and then Mallika wondered, how about sharing the recipes with others? In 2006, she started her blog, which became an instant hit. Every month, the blog had about 18,000 visitors. And then the idea of the book struck her. "It has yummy recipes, whether you're cooking to impress or kicking back on the couch. My stress is on available ingredients and to make cooking a stress-free exercise."

Mallika recalled preparing her first dish for her grandfather. It was Bournvita "cooked" in milk, with slices of banana and biscuits! "He had every bit of it and even said it was good. I don't know how good it was, but he was always very encouraging," recalled Mallika, who often prepared pasta, soups and salads for Basu when she grew up.

So, from Goan, North Indian, South Indian and Bengali (kosha mangsho, bhoger khichuri, chholar dal and bhapa doi) to Thai and Chinese, "Miss Masala" features a tastebud tickler from almost every region. "But no pabda machher jhal, please, because I don't like it." Mallika does not like using too much of turmeric either as it stains her nails.


Use power to bring welfare, not to dominate people: Somnath Chatterjee

TRIBUTE: Schoolchildren place near a statue of veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu during a function to mark his 96th birth anniversary in Kolkata on Thursday. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish.

By Indrani Dutta

THE HINDU, KOLKATA, July 9, 2010

Power has to be used to help bring about people's welfare and not as a means to dominate them. One cannot afford to ignore the feelings and perceptions of the common man.

These oft-repeated words of veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu were recalled by Somnath Chatterjee, former Lok Sabha Speaker, at a meeting here on on the occasion of the 96th birth anniversary of the former West Bengal Chief Minister.

Delivering the first Jyoti Basu Memorial Lecture, Mr. Chatterjee said that as Mr. Basu always emphasised, “only in the hands of a united and eternally vigilant citizenry and a leadership committed to the cause of the people will democracy be safe.”

The lecture, organised by the West Bengal Forum for Parliamentary Studies, was held on a lawn in the Assembly where Basu sat for many decades, either on the treasury benches or in the opposition.

The former Chief Minister, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, one of Basu's friends, sent a letter saying that although his kidney ailments bound him down, he hoped that Mr. Basu's spirit lived on in the House.

Invoking the name of the leader again and again in his speech, Mr. Chatterjee said Mr. Basu always believed that “it is man and man alone who creates history,” and “despite many crests and thrusts, the people will finally emerge victorious and gain freedom in a classless society, free from exploitation of any form.”

Mr. Chatterjee said Mr. Basu had tremendous capacity to assess the significance of developing situations, political or otherwise, and could quickly react to them most aptly.

“He set an outstanding example of how to run a coalition government in harmony, and with understanding among the partners,” Mr. Chatterjee added.

The implementation of land reforms and devolution of power of governance to the grass-root level were among Mr. Basu's greatest achievements, but with his pragmatism, he also ushered in the 1994 Industrial Policy of the State government, Mr. Chatterjee said.

Striking a poignant note during his brief speech, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said it was a painful moment for him to talk about a man whose association had been an asset in his life.

“Mr. Basu was imprisoned without trial, but he never meted out that treatment to anyone. Rather, he pioneered the setting up of a State-level Human Rights Commission. He held aloft secular ideals, and the image and stature that has got inextricably linked with him is one that does the State proud,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Rajarhat Newtown to be named after Basu

Ajanta Chakraborty, TNN, Jul 9, 2010, 12.38am IST

KOLKATA: The Left Front government has decided to christen Rajarhat as Jyotinagar after late CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu. The government is also looking for land at Rajarhat so that a museum and education and research centre in Basu's memory can be set up soon.
This project, in fact, has taken precedence as the ruling CPM has decided to give up Basu's former residence, Indira Bhavan, soon. Basu's belongings are still in this two-storey bungalow at Salt Lake, where Basu's 96th birth anniversary was celebrated on Thursday.
"We are making preparations so that Rajarhat is known as Jyotinagar within the next three months," state housing minister Gautam Deb, who is also chairman of Hidco the agency that runs Rajarhat-New Town said on Thursday. In fact, it was on Basu's birthday celebrations in 2007 when the idea of renaming New Town was first announced by protege and former transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.
The renaming plan includes beautification of a 48-hectare waterbody at the junction of VIP Road and Rajarhat. The centre of the waterbody has been land-filled to create an island which, too, will be landscaped so that a statue of Basu can be installed here. Sources said the ruling CPM had planned Jyotinagar for long, and it was with this thought that the island was carved in the waterbody at the Rajarhat-VIP Road junction.
Hidco officials said the government would announce the Jyotinagar project after finalizing an elaborate programme to mark the christening. "Initially, people were looking for an appropriate occasion to announce Rajarhat's new name. But it has been decided that a leader of Jyoti Basu's stature wouldn't need any excuse for the honours," said an official.
The brisk activity to rename Rajarhat and set up a museum in Basu's memory comes in the wake of a refusal by the now Trinamool-run Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to rename Eastern Metropolitan Bypass after the late patriarch. Last week, the newly formed KMC board turned down the Left Front's proposal, submitted soon after Basu's death on January 17, citing road renaming rules which makes it mandatory to name a stretch only after two years of a person's death. Hidco officials said such rules wouldn't come in the way of Jyotinagar.
For the moment, however, both the government and the CPM mandarins at Alimuddin Street are more concerned with finding a suitable plot for setting up the Jyoti Basu Education and Research Centre and the museum in the patriarch's memory.
Basu's aide Joykrishna Ghosh said, "The CPM has decided to vacate the bungalow soon; they are looking for a suitable plot to set up the museum." The monthly rent of Rs 8,895 for this seven-room bungalow had been footed by the party since Basu stepped down as chief minister in 2000. The urban development department has been trying to look for a plot in Salt Lake, but the government is now more keen on having the museum in Rajarhat.
An official said, "More land is available at Rajarhat for the research centre where Marxism and related subjects will be studied. A separate wing will house the museum where Basu's belongings and books will be preserved."

Basu home hums on b’day


THE TELEGRAPH, Issue Date: Friday , July 9 , 2010

Indira Bhavan throbbed back to life six months after Jyoti Basu’s death on the occasion of the 96th birth anniversary of the communist who lived for 20 years in the Salt Lake house.

“It’s good to see so many people here after so long. It reminds me of the good old days when Basu was alive. In his last years, he used to sit on the verandah and wave at the crowd of well-wishers,” said Basanta Jana, Basu’s longtime aide and a state government employee, who still stays in the irrigation department’s guest house in DE block and takes care of the property.

Thursday’s programme was organised by Subhas Chakraborty’s widow Ramola.

The day started with a host of students from various schools in the township gathering in front of Indira Bhavan, carrying 96 balloons. As the clock struck 10, they entered the compound in a line and paid homage to a life-size statue of Basu.

“Amar raat pohalo sharod praate...,” played in the background.

Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Joykrishna Ghosh, who was the confidential assistant to Basu, turned up at Indira Bhavan. So did a host of Left Front leaders, including Asoke Ghosh of the Forward Bloc and Biswajiban Majumdar, former chairman of Salt Lake municipality.

No one from the former chief minister’s family visited Indira Bhavan during the day.

“The void left by Basu’s death cannot be filled... it hurts to observe his birthday in this house when he is no more.... I don’t see anyone from the new generation who can take his place,” said Chatterjee, wiping off his tears.

Ghosh, too, was gripped with emotion. “He was never keen on celebrating his birthday but had to bow to the wishes of Subhasda and Ramolaboudi. On his birthdays, he would tell us to wake him up early so that he was ready to receive his visitors in time.”

Two books on Basu were launched on the occasion and fruit cakes (Basu’s favourite) were served to the guests.

On his last birthday, at least 2,000 people had come to wish the former chief minister. This time the count was barely 400. “We can’t expect such huge gatherings now. But I will keep celebrating his birthday at Indira Bhavan every year till I am alive,” Ramola said.

But how long will Indira Bhavan remain Basu’s? “His belongings, still in the house, may soon be shifted to Alimuddin Street. We fear that if Trinamul comes to power at Writers’, it may not want the property to be associated with Basu any more,” said a source.

Glowing tribute from party, personal touch from enemy'

TNN, Jul 9, 2010, 12.38am IST
KOLKATA: Amidst the formal speeches and the unveiling of a portrait at the state assembly to mark Jyoti Basu's birth anniversary, the personal touch was added by Basu's self-confessed "political enemy" and personal friend, former chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray.
The ailing Ray was unable to attend the ceremony at the assembly. Instead, he sent a letter to speaker Hashim Abdul Halim, saying "I must get ready to meet Jyoti soon with at least part of my kidney working". "I have so many memories of Jyoti. We were ferocious political enemies, particularly after the Chinese aggression in 1962, but outside the House, we were the best of friends. People would see us together, sitting next to each other watching cricket matches at the Eden Gardens, or at musical or dance programmes... Jyoti was a very lovable person and we were attached to each other very much, in spite of severe differences. I only hope that this spirit would remain forever in the House," Ray said.
Delivering the first Jyoti Basu memorial lecture, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee described the late CPM patriarch as a leader of utter simplicity and sincerity. Possibly indicating at the political situation of the state where the chief minister and leaders of the main opposition party Trinamool Congress are not on speaking terms, Chatterjee reminded that Basu had an excellent relationship with the other opposition leaders as well as those from the Left Front.
Before beginning his speech, Chatterjee hinted at his hope of seeing Basu's official residence Indira Bhavan being turned into a museum. "I went to his house this morning. The chair he used to sit in is still there. I don't know how long it will remain so. I hope the government will decide on this," he said.
In Chatterjee's speech, there was also a lesson for the beleagured CPM which has seen a steady erosion in its votebank, something that had pained the leader in his last days. "He constantly exhorted the party workers and the leaders not to lose touch with the people," Chatterjee said.
Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K Rahman Khan, CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, PCC president Manas Bhunia and speaker Hashim Abdul Halim paid glowing tributes to Basu.


Jyoti Basu remembered on 96th birth anniversary

IANS, Jul 8, 2010, 06.05pm IST

KOLKATA: Hundreds of people, including long-time comrade and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, visited Indira Bhavan, the house where Communist patriarch Jyoti Basu spent his last days, to remember the leader on his 96th birth anniversary, the first after his death.
A life-sized wax statue of the legendary Marxist leader and a chair on which he used to sit, were fixed on the balcony of the house in Salt Lake as people from various sections of society came to pay their respects to Basu. Politicians and commoners are demanding that Indira Bhavan be converted into a museum in Basu's memory. He died January 17 after a prolonged illness.
At Indira Bhavan, boys and girls came with balloons and flowers. A bouquet of red roses with 97 written on it was placed on the dais in front of the balcony. Basu would have turned 97 had he been alive today.
"As long as I have strength in my body to walk I will come to this house every year on this day to pay tribute to Jyoti Basu. I would request the government to preserve this house," said Ashok Ghosh, state secretary of the All India Forward Bloc. "We want this house to be converted into a museum so that we can come for paying our respects," said Gita Roy, a resident of Salt Lake.
"We demand that the Brigade Parade Ground be renamed after Jyoti Basu," said Ramola Chakroborty, widow of Jyoti Basu's ardent disciple Subhas Chakroborty. Brigade Parade Ground is a sprawling stretch of greenery in the Maidan area in the city's hub where Jyoti Basu addressed numerous meetings attended by millions of his party workers and admirers.
"Jyoti Basu is not only a legendary leader but also a path, a way we should follow. He himself is an ideal. He was a people's leader," said Somnath Chatterjee. Among the admirers who paid their respects was state Fire Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee.
Born July 8, 1914, in Kolkata to a wealthy family, Basu took to Communism in London. On his return to India, he joined the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) and plunged into the Left movement. Basu made his debut in electoral politics in 1946. He was elected to the state assembly 11 times, losing only once in the hugely controversial 1972 elections. After the CPI split in 1964, he joined the CPI(M) and was elected to its central committee and politburo.
He was West Bengal chief minister from 1977 until he retired in late 2000 due to ill-health. The last of the nine founding politburo members of CPI(M), Basu almost became India's prime minister in 1996 at the head of a centre-Left United Front government. But the CPI(M) vetoed the proposal, forcing him to dub the party's decision a "historical blunder".

Finding the best of Basu was challenging: portraitist

— Photo: PTI / Swapan Mahapatra A pavement artist gives final touches to a pencil sketch of late CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu beside another sketch of cricketer Sourav Ganguly in Kolkata on Wednesday.

By Ananya Dutta
The Hindu, 8th July, 2010

It took artist Wasim Kapoor a three-month search through newspaper clippings, magazine photographs and promotional literature to find the perfect photograph of Jyoti Basu.

The photograph will be transferred to a 7'X4' canvas that will be unveiled in the West Bengal Assembly on Thursday, the occasion of the veteran Marxist leader's 96th birth anniversary.

“I needed a picture of him standing, but not one in which he was making a dramatic gesture with his arms outstretched. Those are better suited for sculptures; paintings need more subtlety,” Mr. Kapoor told The Hindu on Wednesday.

Interestingly, the picture finally selected was one of Mr. Basu and Prime Minster Manmohan Singh that appeared in The Hindu.

“The photograph — a frontal shot of JyotiBabu — was ideal for the dimensions of the canvas, but he looked too static in it. To capture the dynamism of the charismatic political leader, I made him turn slightly to the left and added a brush of motion to his dhoti — as if he is just about to walk.”

The painting, commissioned by the Assembly, was two-and-half months in the making. The slight angle difference between the photograph and the portrait nearly led to a last-minute catastrophe.

“The painting was ready, it had been signed and reviewed by several of my peers, but I was not fully satisfied. And a day before the painting was to be delivered, I realised that the angle of the shoes in the portrait was not right,” Mr. Kapoor said.

While the shoes in the photograph were pointing straight, the ones in the painting had to be aligned differently. Immediately, someone was sent to the shoemakers nearby a find a similar pair. A family member was asked to wear the shoes and pose at various angles, while the artist took pictures from his mobile phone camera.

Painting Mr. Basu was challenging, Mr. Kapoor admitted, even though he has painted portraits of several political personalities, including Parliamentarian Hiren Mukherjee and veteran Congressman from Bengal, Bhupendra Nath Bose, that hang in Parliament.

“First, there is the persona of the subject, himself. Second, the portrait would hang in the Assembly that boasts of the works of renowned portraitists Atul Bose and J. P. Ganguly. And finally, there is the expectation of the work being judged not only as a likeness of Jyoti Babu, but also for its artistic merit.”


Basu's portrait to be unveiled in West Bengal Assembly

Kolkata, July 3 (PTI): A life-size portrait of late West Bengal chief minister and Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu will be unveiled in the state Assembly on July 8.
The portrait by noted painter Wasim Kapoor would be unveiled by former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on the 96th birthday of Basu, West Bengal Speaker Hasim Abdul Halim said here today.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan, Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat are among the leaders invited to the programme, he said.
"I have invited her (Mamata) to the programme on the 96th birthday of Basu who was a member of the Assembly since 1946 and chief minister between 1977 to 2000,"
Halim told a press conference.Asked whether Banerjee and Karat have confirmed their participation, Halim replied, "I have invited them. It is up to them whether they will attend or not.


A Man of Quality

By Prabhat Patnaik
23th June,2010

Jyoti Basu did not dress like a man of the masses. Jyoti Basu did not talk like a man of the masses. Jyoti Basu did not have any of the personal accoutrements one associates with a man of the masses. And yet the masses loved him. He did not seek popularity; the idea of doing so would have repelled him. Yet popularity came to him. And it came precisely because the idea of seeking popularity was repugnant to him. His very "naturalness", his very distaste for frills, was a symptom of a man of quality; and the masses loved him because of this quality. He had charisma because he did not seek charisma.
In fact all his remarkable traits, his courage, his straightforwardness, his integrity, his tenacity, his keeping faith with the masses, came "naturally" to him. He was courageous because it would not occur to him to be anything else. He had integrity because this to him was the "natural" thing. He kept faith with the masses because it would be against his "nature" to be otherwise. Most people in life strike poses; it is difficult not to be an actor, at least on occasions; it is difficult not to pretend to be different from oneself on occasions. Jyoti Basu was remarkable because he was not a poseur, because he never play-acted, because he never pretended to be different from what he really was. And what he really was is a man of quality, for whom being "cheap", being low, being duplicitous, being manipulative and being mendacious is simply foreign to his personality. It is this directness that appealed to the masses. They loved him because they could trust him. He kept his word. He would not wilfully lead them astray; and if he made mistakes they were genuine mistakes which he would own up to.
And above all, he had faith in the masses. The masses knew it and responded to his faith in them. His immense strength, his supreme self-confidence came not because of any specific honing of his personality, not because of any "cultivation" of his personality. It came from this simple alchemy between him and the masses: each of them trusted the other; each was sure of the other’s response to it. One may like reading detective novels as Jyoti Basu did; one may like good food as Jyoti Basu did; one may be England-educated and like visiting England occasionally as Jyoti Basu did; one may be as unascetic and as much of a bon vivant as Jyoti Basu was; but as long as this alchemy exists one is a "man of the masses". Being a "man of the masses" is a matter of this alchemy, not of dress or food or asceticism.
It is exceedingly difficult to come across a person who combines these three qualities: "naturalness"; complete freedom from "cheapness", duplicity and mendacity; and faith in the masses. Jyoti Basu combined these in full measure. That is what defined him. It was apparent in several episodes of his life, and also in the totality of his political career.
In the late nineteen sixties during the rule of one of the United Front governments, there was a police revolt against the government. Rebellious policemen attacked the state legislature building. Legislators, including the Speaker himself, fled in all directions. Jyoti Basu, who was in his room in the Assembly building, kept working there, unflappable as ever. As the Home Minister he was the prime target of the rebellious policemen, but he stayed put. When the police mob got to his room, the very sight of him, sitting there unflinchingly, brought it to a halt. Then he coolly addressed them: "You can do what you please here, but how will you face the masses who will come for you when they hear the news of your attack?" The mob disappeared sheepishly. This combination of raw courage that is almost "natural" since no other course of action would strike him on an occasion like this, and of faith in the masses, defined Jyoti Basu. One cannot get away doing what one likes; one is accountable to the masses who will come eventually.
Journalese is in the habit of crediting Jyoti Basu with "flexibility". Underlying this "flexibility", however, was immense courage. It was not "flexibility" of opportunism but "flexibility" based on principles, "flexibility" necessary in the interests of the people, the kind of "flexibility" that the Chinese Communists had displayed when they had abducted Chiang Kai-shek from Xian to sign an agreement with them to defend China against Japanese invasion. Anyone familiar with events in West Bengal in the early-seventies knows the immense sacrifices made by the Marxists during the period of semi-fascist terror. Jyoti Basu had been a witness and a victim of it. He had called off his polling agents from the Baranagar constituency in the face of the massive booth capturing that his opponents had unleashed in the 1972 Assembly polls. And yet it was Jyoti Basu who was the architect of a united front with the very same opponents in 2004, when the UPA formed a government at the centre supported from the outside by the Left. And that support was steadfast; if that government did not last its full term, it was for no fault of Jyoti Basu and his Party.
To be able to unite even against one’s bitterest opponents when the interests of the people so demand requires intellectual courage of the highest order. In leading his Party to support the UPA in order to prevent the ascendancy of communal fascism, Jyoti Basu displayed that rare intellectual courage, which again can come only from a deep knowledge and understanding of the masses.
I had met Jyoti Basu for the last time in 2005, when, as the Conference-President-elect of the Indian Society of Labour Economics, I had gone to invite him to inaugurate the Conference. He agreed graciously despite poor health. After he had spoken, deeply critical of neoliberal economic policies and, in particular, of the introduction of "labour market flexibility", he asked me to send a copy of the speech to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "Flexibility" of the sort Jyoti Basu valued meant speaking truth to all, including those whose views are opposed to yours.