By G Mamatha
THE condolence meeting organised by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist ) in New Delhi on January 27, 2010 to pay homage to Comrade Jyoti Basu witnessed a unanimous declaration of the people, and of all the leaders of the political parties who attended the meeting, that Comrade Jyoti Basu was not just a leader of the CPI(M) and the Left Front but a leader of the entire country. He was a great leader who was a guide to all the secular, democratic and progressive forces in the country.
The venue of the meeting, Mavlankar Hall, overflowed with people belonging to all walks of life – workers, employees, teachers, students and youth. The meeting began with paying floral tributes to Comrade Jyoti Basu. Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) presided over the meeting. Prakash Karat, general secretary of the CPI(M), A B Bardhan (general secretary of CPI), Abani Roy (leader of RSP), Debabrata Biswas (general secretary of All India Forward Bloc) were present on the dais along with union ministers Pranab Mukherjee (Congress) and Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party), D P Tripati (Nationalist Congress Party), Ramchandra Paswan (Lok Janashakti Party), T K S Elangovan (DMK), Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal -United), Nama Nageshwar Rao (Telugu Desam Party) N Chaluvaraya Swami (Janata Dal -Secular), Dr V Maithreyan (AIADMK), Charanjit Singh Atwal (Shiromani Akali Dal), Joseph Toppo (Asom Gana Parishad) and Mahendra Pandey (Polit Bureau member of the United Marxist Leninist Party of Nepal). CPI(M) Polit Bureau members M K Pandhe, S Ramachandran Pillai and Brinda Karat were also present on the dais.
Addressing the meeting Prakash Karat said Comrade Jyoti Basu was one of the tallest leaders of the communist movement in the country. The Left Front government under his leadership adopted major pro-people policies like land reforms, which led to 1.1 million acres of land being distributed to 25 lakh landless and marginal farmers and 15 lakh bargadars (sharecroppers) being registered and provided security of tenure. The democratisation of the three-tier panchayat system was carried on through decentralisation of powers under his leadership. Much before the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, West Bengal showed the way in democratising the panchayat system. Jyoti Basu symbolised the firm adherence to secularism not only in West Bengal but in the entire country. The whole country praised the firm stand of Jyoti Basu which prevented any attack on the Sikh minority in West Bengal after the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi.
Jyoti Basu played an important role in the anti- imperialist struggles, especially against the US war in Vietnam, for Bangladesh liberation, against the blockade of Cuba and against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian areas.
Prakash Karat recalled that when he met Comrade Jyoti Basu in December last, he expressed concern over the lack of growth of the Party beyond the three strongholds of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura and said that the movement is facing a tough time and the troubles have to be faced with greater efforts. He appealed to the participants to work for fulfilling the aims for which Comrade Jyoti Basu dedicated his whole life.
Mulayam Singh Yadav said Comrade Jyoti Basu was a very popular leader, respected even by his worst enemies. He said Jyoti Basu never compromised with his ideology and added that had he become the prime minister of the country, the nation would have treaded a different path.
A B Bardhan, while paying homage, recalled that when there was one paisa hike in the fares of the Calcutta tramway, Comrade Jyoti Basu led a big struggle against it which continued for many days. One should follow such examples in forging struggles against the skyrocketing prices of the present day.
Pranab Mukherjee said Comrade Jyoti Basu was the rarest of the rare leaders who made a great contribution to the country as a whole as a national leader, although he was based in the state politics. He said he was a great son of India, one who moved like a veritable colossus in the arena of national politics. Comrade Jyoti Basu had a very pragmatic approach to issues. Pranab Mukherjee recalled how Comrade Jyoti Basu intervened when a controversy arose regarding the interpretation of the constitution vis-à-vis the role of the head of the coalition government in the late 1960s, which remains relevant even today.
Farooq Abdullah said that the country has lost a father in the passing away of Comrade Jyoti Basu.
Sharad Yadav said that the path chosen by Comrade Jyoti Basu was the path of justice and we miss his presence especially when injustice against the downtrodden is increasing by the day.
Charanjit Singh Atwal said that the entire Sikh community is grateful to Comrade Jyoti Basu for his deft handling of the situation, which saw that there was no loss of life or property of the Sikhs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots after the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi.
Chaluvaraya Swamy expressed his gratitude to Comrade Jyoti Basu for making a Kannadiga the prime minister of the country.
Dr V Maithreyan said Comrade Jyoti Basu was a leader of the masses with a great vision, one who implemented the unprecedented land reforms in the country.
D P Tripati said Comrade Jyoti Basu rose above all the positions that he held and was a beacon of hope for the common people in the country.
T S Elangovan remarked Comrade Jyoti Basu was a champion of the peasants, agricultural workers and the working class. He was a true democrat.
Nama Nageshwar Rao said Comrade Jyoti Basu was a great statesman who initiated many pro-people reforms.
Abani Roy and Debabrata Biswas recalled the important contribution made by Comrade Jyoti Basu in the functioning of the Left Front in the country.
Concluding the condolence meeting, Sitaram Yechury said 61 years of Indian Republic and the 70 years of the political life of Comrade Jyoti Basu are closely connected. He was one of the builders of modern India. Comrade Jyoti Basu was a brave fighter who courageously faced the trials and tribulations in his political life. Quoting an Urdu couplet, “ Yeh na poocho zindagi mein kitne pal hain, yeh poocho har pal mein kitni zindagi hai,” Yechury said Comrade Jyoti Basu lived his life thoroughly.
The meeting concluded with the passing of a condolence resolution and observing silence for a minute in the memory of Comrade Jyoti Basu.