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".

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