State move to change name of Indira Bhavan unilateral: CPI(M)

PTI | 11:12 PM, Dec 28, 2011
Kolkata, Dec 28 (PTI): The CPI(M) today criticised the West 
Bengal government for 'unilaterally' changing the name of official 
residence of late Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu and renaming it after 
'universally respected' poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. "We have no 
objection to name it after Nazrul islam, a universally respected poet 
and song writer. But in this case the state government should have 
initiated consultations with our party," CPI(M) West Bengal state 
committee Secretary Biman Bose said here. He said this was also a 
very sensitive issue since Indira Gandhi was assasinated in 1984. 
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee earlier in the day said the Indira 
Bhavan would be turned into a museum and a research centre 
devoted to Nazrul Islam trashing the previous Left Front 
government's plan to convert it into a government guest house. The 
bungalow was named Indira Bhavan during the Congress Session in 
1972 when the then prime minister stayed there during the duration 
of the session. PTI PB SUS

State to rename Indira Bhavan

TNN | Dec 29, 2011, 03.20AM IST

KOLKATA: For years, Indira Bhavan was associated with the name of Bengal's former chief minister Jyoti Basu. Not any longer. Indira Bhavan, the sprawling Salt Lake bungalow where former chief minister Jyoti Basu lived for two decades till his death, will now be called Nazrul Bhavan.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced at Writers' Buildings that Basu's belongings had been cleared from the building (by his party, the CPM), and that it would be turned into a museum and research centre on poet, museum and revolutionary Kazi Nazrul Islam. The building will house primarily the poet's memorabilia, his books and research on the poet's works. The project on Kazi Nazrul was announced earlier, but it was not known where the research centre and museum on Kazi Nazrul Islam would be housed.

Indira Bhavan was built in 1972 primarily to serve as a guest house for then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for her visits to the city. Later, the Left Front government decided to allot Indira Bhavan for Basu to live in and he had moved into the bungalow in August 1989. Since then, he continued to live there till his death in 2010.

All Basu memorabilia, including a wax statue of the state's former chief minister, are in the process of being taken to the CPM headquarters on Alimuddin Street. The process of handing over the property to the state government is expected to be completed by December 31. The property will then be under the state urban development department. Since 2000, Alimuddin Street used to pay about Rs 8,880 per month to the state urban development department as rent for Indira Bhavan and rent for the bungalow had been paid in advance till December 2011.

Officials say that CPM leaders at Alimuddin Street themselves wanted to hand over Indira Bhavan to the state government and take Basu's belongings to their office headquarters. There were proposals immediately after Basu's death that Indira Bhavan could be turned into a museum on Basu - a plan discussed by the former Left Front government - but that plan was dropped later.

The state government had spent a whopping Rs 30 lakh per year on salaries of those employed at Indira Bhavan, Basu's Z-plus security and the building's annual maintenance. Now of course, several places in the building have to be repaired before the Nazrul Bhavan can begin to function, said an official.

Leader of Opposition, Surjya Kanta Mishra, was not available for comment on Wednesday, but two days ago he had said that some of Basu's belongings had already been shifted from Indira Bhavan.


Communist memories


FRONTLINE, Volume 28 - Issue 25 :: Dec. 03-16, 2011
Extracts from interviews of India's first-generation Communist leaders throwing light on some turning points in the history of Indian communism.

 Jyoti Basu as Chief Minister at his office in Writers' Buildings in Kolkata.

LEADERS of the communist movement in India have been prolific writers. P.C. Joshi, one of the ablest pamphleteers the country has known, was general secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in the 1940s, right up to the Second Congress in Calcutta in 1948, when B.T. Ranadive took over. Unfortunately, neither of them wrote memoirs, as E.M.S. Namboodiripad did ( How I Became a Communist, Chinta Publishers, Trivandrum, 1976; and Reminiscences of an Indian Communist; National Book Centre, New Delhi, 1987). A.K. Gopalan wrote In the Cause of the People: Reminiscences (Orient Longman, 1973). Nor must one forget Muzaffar Ahmad's Myself and the Communist Party of India 1920-1929 (National Book Agency Pvt. Ltd, Calcutta, 1970) and P. Sundarayya's Telangana People's Struggle and Its Lessons published by Desraj Chadha on behalf of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in Calcutta in 1972. It is a most informative book of 592 pages but without an index. A reprint is called for. The CPI leader N.K. Krishnan wrote Testament of Faith…: Memoirs of a Communist (New Delhi Publishing House, 1990). He twice mentions P.N. Haksar as a “member of the Communist group” and “a fellow Communist” in Britain; pages 58 and 60). In the eyes of some, Mohit Sen was a lapsed Communist; but no serious student of the communist movement in India can neglect his memoir A Traveller and the Road: The Journey of an Indian Communist (Rupa & Co., 2003).

Nor should one neglect that enormous storehouse of resource for scholarship, the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML) in New Delhi. This writer would like to express his enormous gratitude to the institution and its unfailingly helpful officials. What follows is a mere glimpse of its rich Oral History programme. Two cautions are in order. One must consult the whole record; under the rules, readers are only allowed copies of a part. Secondly, a lot depends on the quality and relevance of the question. No answer can be more intelligent than the question that elicits it.

There are some crucial episodes in the record of Indian communism on which much has been written – the Communists' split with the Congress Socialist Party; the CPI's stand on the Second World War; the second party congress in 1948; evolution of the tactical line; the leaders' historic meeting with Joseph Stalin in Moscow; the Telangana struggle and the Andhra Thesis.


It is on these episodes that, one hopes, the extracts throw some light. The leaders spoke with candour. To be sure a lot happened thereafter, culminating in the party's split in 1964. If I begin with the prince among them all, in a manner of speaking, it is because Jyoti Basu was one of the most level-headed and urbane men in our public life with whom it was easy to interact, with much pleasure and profit always. On behalf of the NMML, Shikha Mukherjee and Usha Prasad interviewed Jyoti Basu at Kolkata on December 18, 2001. His recollections of the past are interesting. More so, his views on recent events:

“The Government of India did not adopt proper policy in regard to giving autonomy and more powers to the Kashmiris. So they became little by little more alienated from India. At that time the rise of the Jana Sangh and the Hindu elements also had their impact. Earlier also when these powers were taken away, the young Kashmiris became pro-Pakistan, anti-India. Now there are various groups. What some people like Sheikh Abdullah wanted was not to join Pakistan, but independent Kashmir. I once asked Sheikh Abdullah after he was released and became the Chief Minister again: Why, how would you deal with a small State like that? Some arguments he gave me: Why? If I had an independent Kashmir, Pakistan would support me, America and India would support me. Anyway he later on was with India. … We cannot hand over Kashmir to Pakistan; that is clear as anything. We cannot make Kashmir an independent State, but we stick today to what we have been saying. It is more than ever necessary to give them absolute autonomy and not only autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, but within Kashmir autonomy should be given to the Jammu part and the other part also. That is how we can get back the confidence of the people, Muslims particularly, in Kashmir. They have been alienated; there is no doubt about that. But the way to do [that] is to really look after their economic interest and probably more than that. At the moment we have to politically satisfy them not only with Article 370, which the present government wants to withdraw, but also the other powers, which they had even during Jawaharlal Nehru's time, should be given back to them. Some of them have been taken away. Then if they want their own Supreme Court or if they want anything, except defence and foreign policy, it should be given to them but, of course, financial help must be rendered from the Government of India. That is how you can get the confidence of the people.

Mukherjee: How can you put an end to the militancy?

Basu: This is to be done both politically and administratively. Army and police operation are necessary, but more than that this, politics, which I am talking, is necessary.”

He was all for a political solution.
It was not just once that he was invited to become Prime Minister. The full account bears quotation in extenso. “You see, when the United Front was there, we got a majority and the Congress said that it would support us so as to keep the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] at bay. So we got together, but who would be the Prime Minister? V.P. Singh would be the best person, but he was ill. So they all, 12 parties, said: You must be the Prime Minister. Why did they say it? It was not because I am God's son, but because, as you said, I have got experience of running a United Front government and the Left Front government. That is why they thought that our party should join the 12-parties government, and I should become the Prime Minister.

“Then what happened was that because before the elections, we had no common programme although we were fighting together against the Congress. We said in the election meetings – I had spoken in so many election meetings: We shall help to form a government, but we will not be a part of it. (That had been our view.) Now since you are requesting 12 parties, including CPI, whose representative Indrajit Gupta became the Home Minister, we have to call a meeting of the central committee. That is the way we function; it is a democratic functioning. So we called a meeting of the central committee on their request: This new situation has arisen and so we have to have a programme that they want us to enter the government and I become the Prime Minister. In the voting there was a division. It was a serious meeting and there was a division. I think by 8 or 10 votes, we lost – our general secretary and I were in the minority. We thought politically it would be excellent thing and the right thing to do to join this government and head it, try to lead it. Even though it may be for few months, it would be politically advantageous. (I am not going into all the arguments.) But the others, the majority thought otherwise that it would be a great risk for us to join with these people, but we said: Already we had worked out Common Minimum Programme for West Bengal. Now we will have a Common Minimum Programme at the Centre. We said: As people saw in West Bengal United Front government, similarly, on an all-India's scale it will help our party, it will help the Left forces, the democratic forces. This was our argument. Others said: Nothing can be done with leading the government but we can support 12 of them. Some of them, that is true also, were very much against our policies like the then Finance Minister, he was very much against our policy, but our argument was: In the Centre, the Prime Minister is unlike what we have in West Bengal, in Kerala. In the Centre the Prime Minister wields a lot of influence and we can for the time being influence them. Other partners [said], you see the World Bank is there; the IMF [International Monetary Fund] is there; they are blindly accepting all that advice given to them, which we shall not do. The people will have a new experience. Within these limitations so many things could be done. Then if we are thrown out and we shall leave a new experience for the people cannot last for five years. The Congress is supporting. When they will withdraw support, people will judge who is to blame. If it breaks up, then we can leave something behind for the people. As I said, this is how people will understand with whom lies the responsibility. But this argument was not accepted by the majority. So we went back and reported that. But they said: The President is waiting. We have to tell him the name of the Prime Minister. No, once again, you please call your meeting. I said: Eight people have left the meeting already, but we know for whom they have voted.

“So we called a meeting second time. This time also we failed. One or two changes were there, but we failed, majority was there for not participating and we, who were for participating, were in minority. Among the comrades of West Bengal there was division also. Four or five of us were for participating and some others were against participating. So again we went back and reported what had happened. …

“Once M.J. Akbar of Asian Age asked me: What do you feel personally? I said – this I have not said any time publicly in my life about party differences though I have differed with my party on many occasions: We the Communists don't talk that way, but on this decision of the majority, I think it was a historic blunder, because history does not give such opportunities to the Communists. Knowing who I am, what I am, my belief in Marxism, the 12 parties are asking me to become the Prime Minister; we should accept it. Let people go through the experience. It will be of great help to the people and us. So he wrote all that in Asian Age.

“When 11 non-Communist parties, V.P. Singh and others, asked the CPI(M) – the CPI had decided to join the government – to join the government with me as the Prime Minister, it would be the correct step. I said: In Parliament [ sic] democracy, never in the world has such a situation arisen. Again I say, this is a historic blunder. Historic, why, because such opportunity does not come, history does not present you with such opportunities. But anyhow that was that….

Prasad: Were you offered prime ministership earlier too?

Basu: I cannot remember; there was a crisis in the Congress in 1990. For some work, I had gone to Delhi. Then the present Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha, came to see me – I was staying in 2, Circular Road. He said: As you know there is a crisis in the Congress. But a government has to be formed, and you head it. I said: How suddenly I become the Prime Minister! We have a small number of people there in Parliament. Anyhow it is not just possible. There is no question of discussing such a thing. So he left and then came our Chander [sic] Shekhar – he was a good friend of mine and I used to meet him earlier also – who he said: You become the Prime Minister, we will all be there to help you. I said: I told your friend (Yashwant was with Chander Shekhar at that time, later he was with the BJP). Then he said: Then I become. I said: Very good. You have all my support, but how long will you last? How many people do you have ? …

Mukherjee: What is that makes a coalition stick together?

Basu: Some minimum understanding. We know where we differ. We do not bring up all those differences when we draw up our programme, like the Common Minimum Programme also. Of course, many things are there with which the Finance Minister and others disagree.

Mukherjee: Why did the United Front experiments at the Centre not work when the Opposition minus the BJP had a role to play? Of course, the BJP coalition is working.
Basu: No, this is a different thing. The BJP coalition is working because all these States' parties and groups want to become Ministers. We cannot form such a coalition. According to us, if there is no minimum understanding sincerely pursued, we should not have a government, but the BJP does not believe in any principles or policies, it wants to rule, and Hindutva and all this business are there; they are guided by the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] and the VHP [Vishwa Hindu Parishad].”

Another opportunity arose in 1999. “When lately the President had asked the BJP to take a vote, it lost by one vote. Then we wanted to present an alternative. It could not be like the other time. That alternative could only be the Congress because that was the main non-communal opposition party. We, ‘our party' do make a difference between the BJP and the Congress. Many communal-minded people may be there in the Congress, but it is a non-communal party. It has become very, very important today but it was not that important in those days. It has become important with the rise of the BJP. So when we were discussing in Delhi, Mulayam Singh said: I cannot support the Congress government. Then I asked him: Why did you vote against the BJP? He said: The alternative is you. (It is ridiculous, that I become the Prime Minister.) I said: Why should the Congress accept me? Those days are over, no more there.

“Then Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh and others came to my house and said: We shall form a government of our own. I asked: How can you form a government of your own, because you have only 120 or 125 MPs. You cannot. (They also had no arguments.) The Left, we, shall support you, we do not want to become Minister or anything, but unless you make an offer to other parties to form a coalition government why should they support you? The Congress also made the mistake. They would not have a coalition government. So we said: As far as the Left is concerned, we do not want to become Ministers; we want to support the government against the BJP. The BJP should not come back. But if you do not do that, then neither the Congress nor you can form a government.

“Now Jayalalitha and Lalu Prasad went to Sonia Gandhi and told her about this alternative, with me as the Prime Minister. Earlier I said: I am not well and all that, why should I take the blame, I will keep quiet. You go to her. Then Sonia Gandhi rang me up and said the same thing. My working committee has already taken a decision, either we form the government or nothing happens. We cannot support the alternative suggested. I said: Very good. Then I do not know why you people voted against the BJP because the BJP is now saying rightly that they (the Opposition) are so irresponsible that they threw us out but could not form an alternative government. They got the political advantage. So this is the story of that event. People in Delhi and not only Mulayam Singh, even the RSP [Revolutionary Socialist Party] and the Forward Bloc with one or two MPs, also opposed and they could not give me the reason why they voted against the BJP, but then opposed the Congress forming a government.”


Jyoti Basu was critical of Stalin's Soviet Union, where dissent was stifled. “In 1962 I went to the Soviet Union along with Bhupesh Gupta and Govinda Menon. There we had raised a question in our National Council – it was not divided then in 1962: Why is it that the Soviet Union – Khrushchev was in power then – is asking the Albanian people to get rid of the Albanian communist government? What right has it to do that? So the decision was taken that three of us should go and talk to Suslov, their topmost theoretician, and Ponomariov, their topmost historian. So we met them for about three or four hours and then amongst many other things – I am not going into that – we asked them about Albanian issue. So Suslov and Ponomariov said: You do not know the kind of propaganda they are doing against us in Albania, although Communist Party rule is there. I said: But that is for the people of Albania to decide; you can tell them what Soviet Union wants to say. How can you ask the people to overthrow a government from outside? We got no satisfactory reply from Suslov and Ponomariov.”


His contempt for the BJP was not concealed.

“Prasad: Before the demolition of Babri Masjid, when there was the rath yatra, you were trying to stop it and then Lalu Prasad stopped it.

Basu: Yes, V.P. Singh asked me to go and see L.K. Advani. Once I went to his house and another time to somebody else's place to meet him. We had food together and then had discussions. But I could not convince him. He was talking about the Moghul days as to how some of them destroyed our temples, this and that. I said: But was it right what they did whoever did it? He said: There is no question about destroying anything. Mine is a peaceful Yatra. I will go from one end of India to the other end and this is my route. But I said: I hear, in the rath you have Ram's photograph. Has he become your party member? You have your election symbol also in the rath. He said: Yes, what is wrong there? But it will be a peaceful rath yatra. I reported back to V.P. Singh: I could not convince him; he is going through his programme. Then he said that he would have to be arrested. That was almost the break-up of the Janata government. But Advani will pass through West Bengal, Purulia district. V.P. Singh told me: You don't arrest him. He will end his rath yatra in Patna. So I had asked Lalu Prasad Yadav – he was the Chief Minister at that time – to arrest him. So this is what happened. Then you know later on, how thousands of people were killed.” (excerpts)

Urban development dept to take over Indira Bhavan

By Suman Chakraborti, TNN | Dec 26, 2011

KOLKATA: Former chief minister of Bengal Jyoti Basu had spent the last 20 years of his life at this sprawling bungalow at Salt Lake. Indira Bhavan will now be handed over to the state urban development department. All Basu memorabilia, including a wax statue of the veteran politician, will be brought to CPM's Alimuddin Street headquarters. The process of handing over the property will be completed by December 31.

Officials of the urban development department are working on the handover process. "The party top brass from Alimuddin Street sent a letter to the department, informing that they wanted to hand over Indira Bhavan to the state urban development and to take over Jyoti Basu's belongings that were still kept at Indira Bhavan to their Alimuddin Street headquarters. The handover process will be completed by December 31," said a source from the urban development department.

Earlier, after Basu's death, there was a proposal to turn Indira Bhavan into a museum in memory of Basu. The proposal was discussed by the previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government but later the plan was scrapped.

Once the urban development department takes over Indira Bhavan, the Mamata Banerjee government can decide on how to best utilize the sprawling building. "First and foremost the building will be repaired and renovated as it is in poor condition . Then, it would be decided as to how it could be used. The building was originally designated as a guest house," said an urban development official.

Opposition leader Surya Kanta Mishra said that some of Basu's belongings have already been shifted from Indira Bhavan.

Indira Bhavan was built in 1972 primarily to serve as a guest house for then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during her visits to the city. Later, the previous government decided to allot Indira Bhavan for Basu to live and he had moved into the bungalow in August 1989. Nine employees were posted at Indira Bhavan to cater to Basu's daily needs, apart from Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans to oversee his security. The state government spent over Rs 20 lakh per year on salaries of these nine employees. The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government also used to allocate more than Rs 10 lakh a year for the building's maintenance.

However, over the last few years, many parts of the building have developed cracks.

After Basu stepped down as chief minister in November 2000 on health grounds, the then North 24-Parganas district administration had reportedly fixed a monthly rent of nearly a lakh. But the rent was then negotiated and it was finally decided that Alimuddin has to pay about Rs 8,880 per month to the state urban development department. Since 2000 onwards, Alimuddin Street has been paying a rent of about Rs 8,880 every month for Indira Bhavan to the state urban development department.


Goutam Deb questions move to scrap Jyoti Basu Nagar’s name

TNN | Oct 21, 2011, 03.29AM IST

KOLKATA: Former state housing minister Goutam Deb on Thursday said the move to scrap Rajarhat New Town's name as Jyoti Basu Nagar would require an administrative order to revoke a gazette notification issued by the governor on October 1 last year and questioned the manner it is being done. The issue is likely to figure in a Left Front meeting on Friday following Forward Bloc leader Asoke Ghosh's request to Front chairman Biman Bose.

The Trinamool Congress-run government has decided not to rename Rajarhat New Town after Jyoti Basu. The renaming proposal, it said, was part of the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2010, passed in the assembly during the Left Front regime. The revision comes after governor M K Narayanan sought the new government's opinion on some of the Bills passed during the fag end of the erstwhile government. The fresh draft - recommended by the present government - does not take into account "renaming" of the township after Jyoti Basu. The government is working on the portion of the Bill that deals with taxation.

Deb says this bill isn't about renaming at all. "There were some tax proposals in it. The government may or may not accept those. The bill merely said Rajarhat New Town, henceforth called Jyoti Basu Nagar," he said. "The name, Jyoti Basu Nagar first figured in a Hidco board resolution. This was then made into an administrative order. If renaming requires a separate bill, I hope Mamata Banerjee has got such bills cleared when she renamed railway stations and other institutions," he said.

Deb said even the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2010, when put in the assembly was sent to a standing committee. "When I moved the bill, leader of the opposition then Partha Chatterjee requested that since it involves tax proposals it should be examined in detailed by the standing committee. I had consented. The standing committee has since given its reports, and it does commend us for renaming New Town as Jyoti Basu Nagar. Now they may have a different opinion," he said. Deb said, "Mamata Banerjee has to resolve bigger issues. I hope she will refrain from such petty politics.

Urban development minister Firad Hakim said, "The governor has sought an opinion."


Rajarhat New Town won't be named Jyoti Basu Nagar

TNN | Oct 18, 2011, 01.24AM IST

KOLKATA: Bidhannagar remains, but not Jyoti Basu Nagar. Salt Lake had been renamed after Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, and it remained as Bidhannagar no matter which party ruled the state.

But with the recent change in power, the proposal to rename Rajarhat New Town after former chief minister and CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu has been scrapped unceremoniously.The Trinamool Congress-run government has decided not to rename Rajarhat New Town after Jyoti Basu. The renaming proposal was a part of the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2010, passed in the assembly during the Left Front regime. A programme was even held at Rajarhat in October last year on the township's renaming.

The revision comes after governor M K Narayanan sought the new government's opinion on some of the Bills passed during the fag end of the erstwhile government.The fresh draft does not take into account "renaming" of the township after Jyoti Basu, a top official of the Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) confirmed on Monday.

The government is, however, working on the portion of the Bill that deals with taxation.According to the official, the Bill passed in 2010 had two portions - one which mentioned the township to be renamed after Basu and the other, had details on the collection of taxes, enlisting trades and professions, tax structure for commercial advertisements and so on. The portion relating to tax proposals is being reframed and has already been sent to the law department for scrutiny. There was no information on the renaming of the township as it was there in the Bill passed during the Left Front rule, he said.State urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim - who is now handling Hidco - also said the government is working only on the part of the Bill that deals with the taxation.

During the Left government's tenure, Hidco was under the state housing department, which was looked after by minister Gautam Deb. The Bill was passed in the assembly in April 2010 and was sent to the governor for his approval.The New Town Kolkata Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2010, was meant for the New Town Development Authority to collect tax, enlist trades and professions, record titles of land and buildings, levy tax on commercial advertisements and so on.

Though the New Town Kolkata Development Authority has already started functioning, it continues to collect taxes under the Bengal Municipal Act like other municipalities in different parts of the state. The Bill was meant to confer regulatory powers to the township authority since it is growing rapidly in terms of population, and as a township adjoining Kolkata and Salt Lake, it should also have its own system of collecting tax.


“THERE is nothing more valuable in life than the love of the people."

“THERE is nothing more valuable in life than the love of the people. We are always ready to sacrifice our lives for a greater cause.

“When the time comes, we should not be found wanting. Our lives should not be spent idling away our time. There should not be any regrets in having led a life of disuse. That has always been my bottom line.”

– Jyoti Basu, in Memoirs: A Political Autobiography, translated from the Bengali, ‘Jatadur Mone Pore’ (As Far As I Can Remember), by Abhijit Dasgupta.

See more:


Jyoti Basu’s birth anniversary celebrated across Bengal

Kolkata, July 8 (IANS): Communist Patriarch and former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu’s 98th birth anniversary – the first after the ouster of the Left Front government – was celebrated across the state Saturday.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee offered floral tributes at a portrait of the leader, who holds the record for the longest uninterrupted rule as chief minister in India with his 23-year stint in West Bengal, at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings.

At the state assembly, an oil painting of Basu – one of the founding politburo members of the Communist Party of India-Marxist [CPI(M)]– was garlanded by Speaker Biman Banerjee, Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee and leader of the opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra.

A non-governmental organisation Pather Panchali, which held annual celebrations on this day at Basu’s residence Indira Bhavan when he was alive, organised a small function at the venue. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh, other political leaders and a large number of schoolchildren took part.

Chatterjee demanded that Indira Bhavan, where Basu spent the last two decades of his life, be turned into a museum in his memory.

Recalling his close association with Basu, Chatterjee said: ‘He always used to say that politics was a means to serve the people. He always said political rivalry should not give rise to personal rivalry.’

Chatterjee, who was expelled from the CPI(M) in mid 2008 for refusing to heed the party diktat to step down from the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post after the Left withdrew support to the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government over the US-India civil nuclear deal, said people will never forget Basu.

‘I appeal to everybody that we may have political differences, but that should not lead to hatred or violence,’ he said.

Chatterjee said there was a need to convert Indira Bhavan – a state government guest house – into a museum.

‘Indira Bhavan is no ordinary government building. It should be protected as a national heritage. It should be converted into a museum in his name so that coming generations get to know his life, struggles and achievements,’ he said.

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 first 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’.

He died January 17, 2010.



'In politics there are moments when you have to rise to the occasion and you've got to cater to the need of the hour and the pleas of the people'--------------------- JYOTI BASU


Remembering Comrade Jyoti Basu

First Anniversary of Comrade Jyoti Basu

By Biman Basu

COMRADE Jyoti Basu left us 365days ago. It was January 17, 2010. Comrade Jyoti Basu emerged as an outstanding leader of the Communist movement and the mass movement. After completing the studies in Law in England, he returned to Kolkata and expressed his willingness for full time political activities to Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad. Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad advised him to join trade union movement and Comrade Jyoti Basu started working in trade unions from 1940. Gradually he developed himself as an able working class leader.

Comrade Jyoti Basu worked in the working class movement and mass movement for more than six decades. He led the life as a Party whole timer for nearly six decades. He never treated his personal life above and beyond the Party. He devoted himself for communist movement under the guidance from the Party. He did not join the Communist Party for his personal gains nor did he spend such a life. His Communist life is an example for coming generations. He was jailed many times and had to remain underground to build up the movement and for Party activities.

In 1946, when the Party was not that strong, Comrade Jyoti Basu was elected to Bengal Legislative Council from Railway reserved constituency as he was a railway workers’ leader. Since then, the state legislature saw his brilliant presence up to 2001. Only exception was those five years of sham assembly which was formed after rigged elections in 1972. That was the period of semi-fascist terror in West Bengal. Even Comrade Jyoti Basu was forcibly ‘defeated’ in that bogus election.

Comrade Jyoti Basu, on the one hand, proved himself as one of the front ranking leaders of the mass movement in the fifties and the sixties, and on the other he played a leading role in building up two consecutive United Front governments in the sixties. In both the first and second United Front, he was the deputy chief minister. He was home minister as well as finance minister. Comrade Jyoti Basu established himself as an able administrator during United Front governments.

Comrade Jyoti Basu played important part in defending democracy and establishment of peace during the period of semi-fascist terror in the seventies. “Subversion of Democracy”, a pamphlet written by him during that period is full of important facts of the time. Those days were, in fact, undeclared emergency in West Bengal which was to be imposed upon the whole of the country in 1975. That pamphlet by Comrade Jyoti Basu helped the organizers of movements of workers, peasants, students, youth, and women to understand the essence of emergency. He played an important role in the movement to withdraw the emergency. He propagated the on the democratic view this issue in different parts of the country and abroad. He played a significant role in determining the task of the Communists and the Left in the post-emergency political situation. In the parliamentary elections after the withdrawal of emergency, Congress, the chief motivator of that regime, was defeated and a non-Congress ministry led by prime minister Morarji Desai was formed. Later in West Bengal state assembly elections, the people rejected Congress, the killer of democracy. They were reduced to a weak minority. The Left Front got huge majority and first Left Front government was sworn with Comrade Jyoti Basu as chief minister. He was Chief Minister for 23years, a record not only in the state but in whole country. He led the government in implementing pro-people policies and made West Bengal a bright star in the annals of unity and harmony. To expand the process of development, Left Front government initiated formation of three-tier panchayats and local self governing bodies through elections. Comrade Jyoti Basu played pivotal role in this effort. He used to tell that the government will not function only from the Mahakaran (state secretariat in Kolkata). The developmental programmes will be implemented in villages through panchayats and in urban areas through municipalities. He implemented this idea in reality. The Left Front government under his leadership successfully implemented the land reforms and entitlement of share croppers, panchayat playing a big role in that. He made immense contribution in making the state self reliant in agriculture. For an all round development, Comrade Jyoti Basu introduced new industrial policy in 1994 in the cabinet and strived for industrial development of the state with the aim of employment generation.

Comrade Jyoti Basu organized conclaves along with the Chief Ministers of other states with the demand for restructuring centre-state relations. He successfully projected at all India level the issue of distribution of powers --- the subjects which should be in the Union list and which are to be placed in state list. Though he was involved in political activities in the state, Comrade Jyoti Basu gradually emerged as a national leader.

Though he is no more with us, the contributions made by Comrade Jyoti Basu in the Communist and mass movement, his ideas in defence of the interests of the people must be thoroughly realized by those who are joining political activities now. In West Bengal, ‘Jyoti Basu Centre for Social Studies and Research’ has been formed. The centre will include documentary materials about Comrade Jyoti Basu, a library, an auditorium, seminar rooms etc. Our application for a piece of land for this centre in Jyoti Basu Nagar has been approved. We will need money to buy the land and to construct the centre. In the first phase, a 10-day mass collection from all sections of people has been started from January 17, the first death anniversary of Comrade Jyoti Basu. We are confident that the people will contribute and cooperate in this effort to make this legendary leader’s memory ever shining.

Comrade Jyoti Basu used a phrase quite often: “It is people who make history”. In the present political situation, we have to engage ourselves in intense campaign in the interest of the people. There is no other alternative for us. To defeat the conspiracies by the enemy, the unity of the poor people must be strengthened. To dedicate ourselves in that process is the most crucial task before us at this present juncture.

I express my deep respect to Comrade Jyoti Basu’s memory. Comrade Jyoti Basu will live in our hearts forever.

PEOPLE’S DEMOCRACY, January 23, 2011


Take pledge to carry forward Basu's ideals: Karat

KOLKATA: The first death anniversary of Jyoti Basu, a stalwart of the Communist movement in India, was observed in a sombre ceremony at his Salt Lake residence here on Monday even as tributes flowed in through the day.

Speaking at an event in Durgapur in Bardhaman district, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat spoke about the “Champion of the working class” and of the need to take a “pledge to carry forward the ideals and work that he stood for his entire life.”

The former Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, visited Indira Bhavan, the house which served as Jyoti Basu's residence for years, and bemoaned the loss of the leader at a time when political violence had gripped the State.

Describing the situation as “unfortunate and a matter of concern,” Mr. Chatterjee said, “He [Jyoti Basu] always spoke against violence and for working together to build a society not for partisan political purposes, but for the benefit of the people.”

Mr. Chatterjee recounted the days when the veteran Marxist leader was able to hold discussion on several issues, including the violence at Nandigram.

Fund collection

The CPI(M) State Committee launched a 10-day campaign to collect funds for the setting up of a centre dedicated to his memory at the Jyoti Basu Centre for Social Science and Research Organisation.

Issuing an appeal to party workers, supporters and the people to donate funds for the centre, CPI(M) State Secretary Biman Bose said the land for the centre had been allocated in Jyoti Basu Nagar on the north-eastern fringe of the city and a sizable sum was required to purchase the land. The centre would include details of his life, an auditorium, a meeting hall, a conference room, a library and a guest house, Mr. Bose said in a written statement.
The Hindu, January 18, 2011



Kolkata, Jan 15 (PTI): CPI(M) has decided to set up a research centre in memory of party leader and former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu who died on January 17 last year.
CPI(M) West Bengal State Committee has decided to set up a centre for mass movement in memory of Jyoti Basu. An organisation by the name of ''Jyoti Basu Centre for Social Studies and Research'' has been set up for the purpose," a party press release said. Besides information on Basu, the proposed centre would have an auditorium, a conference room, a seminar room, a library and guest rooms.
A request for land at Rajarhat New Town, recently renamed Jyoti Basu Nagar, has been granted by the authorities concerned, the release said. It said funds for the projects would be raised from the public and the fundraising drive would begin from Basu''s first death anniversary on January 17.