People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 06

February 07, 2010

People Recall Comrade Jyoti Basu’s Role

 

Since our last issue, we have received the reports from numerous other places of homage being paid to Comrade Jyoti Basu. We present here a cross-section of the same. 

 

RAJASTHAN

THE Rajasthan state committee of the CPI(M) organised a meeting on January 21 to condole the demise of its veteran leader Comrade Jyoti Basu. Leaders of various political parties, mass organisations and citizens forums paid floral tributes to the departed leader on the occasion.

The venue of the meeting was the CPI(M)’s state committee office, the Mazdoor Kisan Bhawan of Jaipur. The hall on this occasion was packed to capacity, with the audience raising loud slogans like Red Salute to Comrade Jyoti Basu! and Long Live Comrade Jyoti Basu!

CPI(M) state secretary Vasudev Sharma, CPI state secretary Dushyant Ojha, Congress state ecretary Virendra Singh Punia, Samanjwadi Party state secretary Anil Shekhawat, state president of the RJD, CITU’s senior vice president Waqarul-Ahad, INTUC state general secretary Babulal sharma, AITUC state secretary Premji, HMS joint secretary B L Saini, LIC employees’ leader Ramchandra Sharma, bank employees’ leader Gopi Shukla, AIFUCTO’s national vice president Dr Ghasiram Chaudhari, Rajiv Gupta of Janwadi Lekhak Sangh, Janwadi Mahila Samiti state president Sumitra Chopra, NFIW state secretary Sunita Chaturvedi, CPI(M) MLA Amra Ram and its state secretariat member Hariram Chauhan were among those who expressed their feelings on the occasion. All the speakers threw light on the illustrious political career of Comrade Jyoti Basu and pledged to carry forward the tasks to which he had dedicated his entire life. Condolence messages from the BJP state president Arun Chaturvedi and its Jaipur district unit president Shailendra Bhargava were read out.

Hariram Chauhan and Dushyant Ojha jointly presided over the condolence meeting while CPI(M) state secretariat member Ravindra Shukla conducted the proceedings. The meeting also adopted a resolution sending its condolences to the deceased leader’s family.

Reports of condolence meetings have been received from Udaipur, Ajmer and some other districts as well.     

 

CHHATTISGARH

A LARGE number of workers, peasants, middle class people, cultural workers, journalists, writers and those from other sections took part in the condolence meeting the CPI(M) state committee organised on January 22, in the Town Hall at Raipur, the state capital.

Dharmaraj Mahapatra, Prabhakar Chaube and A C Bhattacharya presided over the meeting.

CPI(M) state secretary M K Nandi, CPI state secretary C L Patel, CITU state general secretary B Sanyal, district UTUC secretary A K Shukla, state government employees’ leader Narendra Chandrakar, PWA leader Prabhakar Chaube and Professor Balchand Kachhwaha were among those who addressed the meeting. The speakers were of the opinion that Comrade Jyoti Basu was an extraordinary genius; he was not only a Left leader but a leader of the masses in a real sense. He was a figure who influenced the Indian politics for more than half a century.

From the presidium of the meeting, district CPI(M) secretary Dharmaraj Mahapatra detailed the life and works of Comrade Jyoti Basu, his arrival in England for higher studies, his conversion to communism there and his decision to become a party wholetimer, thus sacrificing a life of comforts and plenty. During his long career of struggle, he was one of the founding leaders of the CPI(M), deputy chief minister of the two United Front governments in West Bengal and the chief minister of the state from 1977 to 2000. During his tenure, the state made tremendous strides in land reforms and democratic decentralisation, when a vibrant panchayati raj system effected a sea change in the life of rural masses in the state. The state also set an example in regard to communal harmony, and ensured safety for the Sikh community during the cataclysmic days following the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi. All these things projected Comrade Jyoti Basu as an administrator par excellence. However, as a disciplined soldier of the party, he rejected the offer of prime minister’s post made to him in 1996. Basu lived an extraordinary life of dignity, which would remain an ideal for many of the coming generations.

The audience then observed two-minute silence as a mark of respect for the departed leader.

The meeting received condolence messages from former central minister Purushottam Kaushik and former chief minister Ajit Jogi, which were read out.

 

SURREY, CANADA

ON January 30, the Indo-Canadian Workers Association of Canada organised a condolence meeting in the Strawberry Hills Library Hall in Surrey to pay homage to Comrade Jyoti Basu. The meeting was attended by several local politicians along with the consular general from the Indian embassy in Vancouver. The meeting started with Jagjit Singh singing a song written by Javed Akhtar for Comrade Jyoti Basu, followed by the screening of a presentation by CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Comrade Jyoti Basu.

The meeting was addressed by Surinder Sangha, Kulwant Dhesi and Surinder Dhesi from the Indian Canadian Workers Association, Harjeet Daudharia from the Community Party of Canada, Shinder Purewal of the Liberal Party of Canada, noted historian Sohan Singh Pooni, Gurpreet Singh from Radio India of Canada, India’s consul general Ashok Das, and others. Sangha spoke in details about the role Comrade Jyoti Basu played in Indian politics as well as in the land reforms, panchayat system and communal harmony in West Bengal.

Kulwant Deshi spoke about how Comrade Jyoti Basu ran a communist government in West Bengal under the bourgeois landlord system of India for a record 23 years in Indian history.

Joga Singh Randhawa organised a video documentary programme and played Prakash Karat's interview highlighting Comrade Basu's legacy, his contribution, his uniqueness in strengthening the fabric of secularism in India and implementing land reforms in West Bengal.

Gurpreet Singh spoke in detail about the role Comrade Jyoti Basu played in keeping the communal forces in check and in maintaining and strengthening communal harmony in the state of West Bengal.

Paying their homage to Comrade Jyoti Basu, other speakers too recalled his role in national politics and in the Left movement in India.

On this occasion, the Indo-Canadian Workers Association and Radio India released a calendar to mark the 100th year of the publication of first Punjabi newspaper, named Swadesh Sewak, from Vancouver in 1910. Initially this meeting was scheduled for the release of the said calendar but was converted into condolence meeting after the news of Comrade Jyoti Basu’s demise reached Canada. The participants observed one-minute silence in the memory of the departed leader. (Joga Randhawa)

 

UNITED KINGDOM

PEOPLE from across Britain paid their tributes to Comrade Jyoti Basu, in a befitting manner, with their representatives cutting across political, social, cultural and national divides appreciating his life and achievements.

The condolence meeting in Southall was packed with the representatives of political parties, trade unionists, religious leaders, students and members of parliament. This meeting on January 24 coincided with the memorial meeting in Shahid Minar of Kolkata. Though the two places are thousands of miles apart, the people in the two countries shared the emotion and reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the socialist, secular, democratic and pro-people legacy of Jyoti Basu. The meeting recalled the departed leader’s cherished belief that the people will finally emerge victorious and move in freedom towards a classless society free from exploitation in any form.

The meeting began with a silent tribute as attention turned to capturing some pertinent moments of the epoch making history that Jyoti Basu lived.

Harsev Bains, general secretary, Indian Workers Association (Great Britain), underlined Comrade Basu’s special relationship with the working class in Britain, his association with the CPGB in the late 1930s and with Harry Pollitt, Ben Bradley and Rajni Palme Dutt. His activities and capacity to organise the Indian workers and students living in Britain and engage them in freedom struggle were illustrated by the reception organised for Jawaharlal Nehru.

Surjit Singh Bilga, a senior leader of the Sikh community, recalled the dark days of emergency in the 1970s when Jyoti Basu stayed underground in Punjab. He said Basu did not serve the interests of the West Bengal people alone; through his initiatives and interventions he strengthened the federal structure of India by demanding improvements in the centre-state relations. This went a long way in safeguarding the democratic institutions in India.

Avtar Sadiq, secretary, Association of Indian Communists, noted how the early years of Jyoti Basu from a law student to a communist in Britain were influenced by events in the Soviet Union, the defeat of fascism and the glorious victory of socialism. These were what later contributed to creating the legacy of Comrade Jyoti Basu for the people of West Bengal and India. Sadiq explained how Jyoti Basu became a fearless fighter for all the people and a champion of the working class, poor peasants and landless agricultural workers.

Labour MP and chair of the Labour Friends of India, Steve Pound, offered a tribute based on his personal experience of Kolkata visit during the last state elections, when he met Comrade Basu. He saluted this great statesman of international stature, who established new standards in extending democracy by winning elections over and over and over again, “Oh! How we all yearn to duplicate his success in winning elections,” he stated. He exemplified the legacy of Basu in eradicating hunger and famine from West Bengal through successful land reforms, in protecting the working people’s rights and promoting communal harmony. It was an honour, he said, to have witnessed such great intellect and sharpness of mind.

Inder Sen Gupta of the CPI, now living in Britain, recalled his memories of having working directly with Comrade Basu in the railways trade union. He said the people of India have lost an outstanding leader.

In a message of condolence from the Indian High Commission, first secretary for community affairs Jitendera Kumar provided his personal anecdotes of life, democracy and systemic changes that took place since Jyoti Basu and the Left Front came to power in West Bengal. The transformation in the field of education, providing excellence and access to many, has been nothing short of a cultural revolution, said this former student of Presidency College.

Harpal Brar, chair of the CPGB (ML), said during a very short time the people of India have lost two high-stature leaders. The loss of Comrade Jyoti Basu, so close on the demise of Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet, is very hard to bear. He expressed confidence in the CPI(M)’s collective leadership to carry forward the agenda of its founding members.

Hardip Duhra, national president of the Friends of CPI in Britain, stated how he had been influenced by Comrade Jyoti Basu and his contemporaries like Bhupesh Gupta.

A visibly moved Santokh Singh, a prominent writer, shared his memories of Comrade Basu addressing the masses in Britain. He said despite the threats and attempts on his life coming from the extreme left Maoist and rightist Anand Margi groups, Comrade Basu always remained accessible to the people. 

The local MP for Southall, Virendera Sharma, said Jyoti Basu believed in helping all human beings, not just sections of it. He contrasted Jyoti Basu’s role with the shameful events in Gujarat and the current divisive statements against non-Marathi workers in Maharashtra. Many others including Mirdul Islam (representative, Tudeh Party of Iran) and Ranjit Dheer (leader, local municipality) endorsed these sentiments.

Nazar Basran elaborated how Comrade Basu and the Left Front government in West Bengal looked after the working people’s interest. Jyoti Basu empathised with the harsh conditions in which workers existed and did his best to provide them protection and improve their lot. He also talked of the moves to protect the rights of agricultural workers, poor peasants and sharecroppers, extending and deepening the roots of democracy in the rural areas of the state.

IWA (GB) national president Dyal Bagri informed that memorial meetings were being organised across the UK and all funds raised from the sale of the memorabilia depicting Comrade Jyoti Basu would go to the Haiti earthquake relief fund. The meeting at Southall raised 350 pounds sterling.

Avtar Uppal, president of the Southall unit of IWA (GB), attacked the wishful manipulation by some sections to present the idea of End of History. Talking of the life of Comrade Basu, he said history, the history of struggle, the people’s history to end exploitation, to be free from poverty, to bring about real change ends nowhere. (Harsev Bains)