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.
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.
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
Bangladesh plans a memorial at Jyoti Basu’s ancestral village
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.
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.
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.
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.”
TNN, Aug 26, 2010, 12.58am IST
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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
By TAMAGHNA BANERJEE
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.
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.
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.”
By Prabhat Patnaik