(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 31, 2010
A Unique and Beloved Leader
THE colossus of the Indian communist movement, the last of the navratnas who comprised the first Polit Bureau of the CPI(M), our beloved leader Comrade Jyoti Basu is no more. He bore his deteriorating health problems with a sense of dignity and will power through the suffering. Even when he was ill and unable to come to meetings, his wise counsel and guidance were always there for the party, for his comrades. But the inevitable came to pass. In his death the country has lost one of its greatest sons, a man who was born into privilege, who turned his back on it, to fight the fight of the dispossessed.
AT CRUCIAL JUNCTURE
Many movements led
communists in different periods of history suffered because of the gulf
theory, principle, programme and practical work. Unlike some other
in India the course of the freedom movement left the ruling classes
alternative but to adopt a parliamentary system of democracy based on a
system. Thus, one of the crucial questions before the communist
the role of parliamentary democracy in the strategy for the Indian
This did not remain just a theoretical or academic question precisely
the growth of the communist movement got reflected in the increasing
in legislatures in the three states of Kerala,
In Bengal, a
there was a parallel yet entirely different model based on the concrete
COLOSSUS WHO SET
His was a unique role and he set
precedents. Seventy years in public life in the service of the people.
longest serving elected head of a government in the whole world. A
who started his public activity as a trade union leader and who
remain associated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) even as
chief minister, thus sending out a strong message of the difference
communist chief minister and others. Serving in the
Each and every one of the precedents he set add to the multidimensional nature of the legacy he has left.
He had the most emancipated
the very epitome of a progressive understanding of social issues,
on women. He strongly disapproved of the conservative and male
attitudes prevalent in society and in politics. His strong reactions to
violence against women, his encouragement to building up women’s
resistance were a great encouragement to women’s movements and
women comrades in the party. They looked to Jyoti Basu for support and
it unstintingly. At the eighth national conference of the All India
Women’s Association (AIDWA) held in Kolkata in 2007, he made a most
speech. Speaking about the important role that women in panchayats were
THE GRASS ROOTS
The higher his stature grew,
national politics as the longest serving chief minister in the country
one with the most impeccable record of integrity, the sharper his
instinct and understanding of the grass roots and the pulse of the
contrast to the perceived image of his “being aloof,” he was closest to
thoughts of the people. A true communist, he cared deeply for the
the people and was loved by them in return. He never cared for the
power and that is why people identified with him. They believed that
he was he would be doing the right thing for them. In
They trusted him because Jyoti Basu always spoke the truth to the people. He never exaggerated what he could do for them, he always pointed out the pitfalls. At a time when melodrama and hyperbolic promises mark the political scenario, most striking was Jyoti Basu’s quality of being absolutely straightforward in what he said to the people in the hundreds and thousands of meetings he addressed in his life.
The greatness of Jyoti Basu also lay in his absolute lack of rancour against individuals who may have differed with him politically. He spoke his mind and expected others to do so too. He was extremely democratic and though his towering personality could have silenced any differences if he had wanted to, he never imposed his will but always went by the collective. In his autobiography, he writes how after 1946 when he was elected to the legislature he used to go every evening to the party office to inform and discuss with the party leadership the day’s proceedings and developments. This practice continued throughout his life. He set an example by coming every day to the party office before going on to fulfil his heavy responsibilities as chief minister.
In his reach to the world, Jyoti Basu went far beyond the party he built and loved. He not only touched the lives of millions but, by his pioneering leadership, he changed their lives, giving the poor confidence and dignity. He has left us grieving and bereft.