By V. S. Achyuthanandan
I am having the fortune to cherish the fond memories of Com. Jyoti Basu that spread over half a century. Being members of the Polit Bureau and Central Committee of the CPI(M), we had been able to work together during different occasions on various issues. Jyoti Basu was a clear-cut example of a communist leader. How a communist should behave in life as well as in struggles is evident in the personality of Com. Jyoti Basu. When he was in ill bed I visited him at his residence and in hospital more than once. On that occasions, irrespective of his ill health, we have exchanged and recollected our old memories for a long time. That was also last memorable movements in our friendship. One of those occasions, I proudly recollect, he told me that “you are a good fighter and still you have enough strength & courage to continue the fight for people’s cause.”
We all know he was born and brought up in an affluent family. And he could attain the higher education from London. So, he could have led a comfortable life. But, it is discarding all these fortunes that he became a staunch fighter of the working class movement in the country.
It’s a fact that his life at London helped him have association with Prof. Harold Lasky and many other left thinkers, later on paved way for him to have close connection with the anti-fascist & working class movements. When Basu returned home, the fire he got from the anti- imperialist & fascist movement in London helped him plunge into the turbulent turmoil’s of freedom struggle. As a communist leader, he was always with the toiling masses. The problem they faced, he took them as his own. For their cause, he was ready to take any risk. And gradually he grew up to the stature of a great leader. Struggles, under-ground life, arrests, conviction – all these were part and parcel of his life, exactly in tune with the life of a true communist.
His life was, in its full sense, committed to the people and the nation. So, personal sorrows never annoyed him. At the time of the death his father, Basu was in Dum Dum Central jail. So he could not have a look at his father before he breathed his last. But the communist in Basu was strong enough to bear all these heart-renting moments.
It was in 1958 that I came to have personal association with Com. Basu when I became the national council member of the undivided Communist Party of India. During that time great are the memories we experienced together in fighting relentlessly against revisionism in the party. It was the leadership quality of Com. Basu that succeeded in keeping the comrades in West Bengal in tune with the parties correct line.
Ultimately in 1964, 32 comrades staged a walk-out permanently from the national council of CPI and later on CPI(M) was formed. And Com. Basu was one among those 32 comrades. At present, myself is the only one among those 32 comrades who is alive today.
In the Vijayawada Congress in 1961, we fought strongly inside the party against the rightist deviations under Dange. At that time Jyothi Basu was well in the fore-front of this struggle along with Comrades Basava Punnaiah and P Sundarayiah. And Jyoti Basu had alone done a marvelous job in making meticulous arrangements for the first organizational conference which marked the formation of the CPI(M) in 1964 in Kolkota.
The Bengal People are greatly indebted to Com. Jyoti Basu for establishing a left-front government in West Bengal emancipating the state from the tyrannical Congress rule led by late Sidhartha Sanker Ray. In this fight, he remained on a par with Comrades Pramod Das Gupta, Saroj Mukharjee and Binoy Chowdhari etc.
After this, under his agile leadership he could lead Bengal to prosperity for a period of three decades. He could establish novel models in Bengal by effecting land-reforms and decentralization of power. Under his leadership, Bengal could attain the highest rate of agricultural growth in the country. It was his association with the peasant movement in Bengal that helped him take these progressive measures in agricultural sector. But unfortunately before establishing cent percent rights for the tenancy of the peasants and agricultural workers over land, he had to move away from power. But even then, the laws promulgated by the Basu government remain to be a land-mark in the history not only of West Bengal, but the entire nation .
Basu’s fond memories are also relevant in the fact that he had been successful in containing and saving the state during the days of communal struggles. It was well seen during the time of the demolition of Babari Masjid.
At one occasion, there was a call from different corners that Basu should be made the Prime Minister of India. Even though it was not realized, it was a great recognition and honour for the personality of Basu and the CPI(M).
In short, Com. Jyoti Basu was a hard-core communist, a relentless fighter for the cause of the down-trodden and the working class, an able administrator, a far-sighted leader, a staunch secularist and what not.
At this juncture, when the country is on the brim of a collapse in the hands of the BJP-led communal and divisive forces, the great memories of Com. Jyoti Basu would be an energizing force for all the secular and democratic sections to fight against these communal forces.