Jyoti Basu, breathed his last on Sunday, January 17, 2010. Announcing his death, CPI (M) state
secretary Biman Bose, said that Basu passed away at 11: 47 am. The 95-year-old communist leader was admitted at a private nursing home in Kolkata on January 1
with mildly severe pneumonia.
Jyoti Basu, the Chief Minister of West Bengal from 1977 to 2000, was India's longest- serving Chief Minister. He was a member of the CPI(M) Polit
Bureau from the time of the party's founding in 1964 until 2008.
Jyoti Basu was born on July 8, 1914 into an upper middle-class Bengali family in Calcutta. His father
Nishikanta Basu, a doctor, hailed from the village of Barodi in Dhaka District,
East Bengal He got his school education at St. Xavier's Collegiate School. He graduated from Presidency College with an honours degree
from the Art Faculty in 1935, and subsequently travelled to the United Kingdom to study law.
During his stay in United Kingdom, Jyoti Basu met some of the noted personalities of Great Britain’s Communist Party like Ben Bradley, Rajani Palme Dutt and Harry Pollitt. He was
strongly influenced by Marxist ideologies. Also, Jyoti Basu served as India League’s member in London. Basu was chosen as the Secretary of London Majlis. He also took part in Federation of Indian Students in Great Britain.
Marxist veteran leader Jyoti Basu
Jyoti Basu returned to India in 1940 after qualifying for the Bar and became a
whole-timer of the Communist Party of India. In 1944 Basu became involved in trade union activities. CPI delegated him to work amongst the railway
labourers. When B.N. Railway Workers Union and B.D. Rail Road Workers Union merged Basu
became the general secretary of the union.
Jyoti Basu was elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1946, contesting the
Railway constituency. When the Communist Party of India split in 1964, Basu
became one of the first nine members of the Polit Bureau of the newly-formed
Communist Party of India (Marxist). In 1967 and 1969, Basu became Deputy
Chief Minister of West Bengal in the United Front governments.
From June 21, 1977 to November 6, 2000, Jyoti Basu served as the Chief Minister of
West Bengal for the Left Front government. In 1996 Jyoti Basu seemed all set to
be the consensus leader of the United Front for the post of Prime Minister of
India. However, the CPI(M) Polit Bureau decided not to participate in the
government, a decision that Jyoti Basu later termed a historic blunder. H.D.
Deve Gowda from the Janata Dal instead became Prime Minister.
Basu resigned from the Chief Ministership of West Bengal in 2000 for health
reasons and was succeeded by fellow CPI(M) politician Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.
Soccer icon Diego Maradona regards Marxist veteran
leader Jyoti Basu as one of his close acquaintances considering his "closeness" to Cuban leader Fidel
Maradona, an ardent admirer of Castro, told nonagenarian Jyoti Basu during his
ten-minute meeting with the Marxist patriarch. Basu gifted Maradona an album of
photos of Fidel Castro taken during the Cuban leader's visit to the city.
The 18th congress of CPI(M), held in Delhi in 2005, re-elected Basu to its Polit
Bureau, although he had asked to be allowed to retire from it.
On September 13, 2006, Basu entreated the CPI(M) to allow his retirement due to his age, but
was turned down. General Secretary Prakash Karat said that the party wanted Basu to continue until its 2008 congress, at which point it would
reconsider. At the 19th congress in early April 2008, Basu was not included on the Polit
Bureau, although he remained a member of the Central Committee and was designated as Special Invitee to the Polit Bureau.
Jyoti Basu asks Mamata to put state above politics
As the agitation for return of land from the Tata Motors Nano project site
falters, the ailing Marxist icon Jyoti Basu made an impassioned plea to Mamata
Banerjee and her band of agitators to rise above politics in the interest of Bengal.
The nonagenarian Basu who returned from hospital following a head
injury appealed to agitating farmers in Singur to accept the compensation and
rehabilitation package of the West Bengal government for land losers and allow
resumption of work in the Tata Motors small car project.
As of year 2009, Basu holds the record for being the longest-serving Chief Minister in
Indian political history.