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.