People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 06

February 07, 2010

Jyoti Basu


V S Achuthanandan


Below we publish the reminiscences of Comrade Jyoti Basu by V S Achuthanandan, who is one among the 32 members who walked out from the National Council of the CPI in the fight against revisionism in 1964 to form the CPI(M). The reminiscences by N Sankaraiah, who is the only other surviving member out of those 32 National Council members, were carried in the last issue of People’s Democracy (January 31, 2010)

THE world communist movement has lost the greatest contemporary revolutionary.  Basu was a communist who after assuming power through the parliamentary democratic system has created history by ruling for such a prolonged period in West Bengal.  The Bengal experience under the leadership of Basu was really an exemplary model for the working class who went on fighting even during the era when counter revolution was in progress. 

Born in an aristocrat family and acquiring higher education from England, Basu returned to India as a barrister.  Basu who joined the British Communist party during the years of his study, had returned with an aim to build up a system based on Marxism Leninism in his mother land.  Leading a most humble life, Basu became one of the top leaders of Indian Communist movement by organising the poor railway workers.  He was the founder leader of the CITU.

It was under the leadership of Basu that strong protest against the semi fascist terror regime under the leadership of Siddhartha Sankar Ray and against internal emergency were organised in Bengal during the most controversial period in the history of independent India, there by developing the CPI(M) into an unbeatable force.  For about 23 years from 1977, Basu as the chief minister made Bengal self sufficient in power, relieved Bengal from starvation and implemented land reforms there.  Thus, Basu was accepted as the visionary and maker of modern Bengal.  The leadership qualities of Basu were the prime motive force in building up a third alternative against communalism and single party regime in national politics.  He made a critical contribution in developing the CPI(M) into a decisive force in national politics.  The country waited for the words of Basu on all critical issues. 

I think it is the most memorable thing in my life that I could work in the same committee with Basu for more than five decades.  Along with Basu, I was also there among the 32 members who walked out as part of the fight against revisionism from the national council of the CPI.  Following this, Basu took an important role in organising successfully the 7th Congress of the party in Kolkata.  This Congress was held with an objective to build CPI(M) as a real Marxist Leninist Party to make the people’s democratic revolution a reality.  A fight against Naxal extremism was inevitable once the issue of revisionism was over.  Leading struggles, both ideological and organisational, against these deviations, Basu along with Comrades P Sundaraiah, B T Ranadive, M Basavapunnaiah, E M S Namboodiripad, A K Gopalan, P Ramamurthy and Harkishan Singh Surjeet took a critical role in developing the CPI(M) into the greatest working class revolutionary movement.

Basu had always been an inspiration to the revolutionary working class movements in Kerala.  Empowering the comrades of Kerala, Basu had on many occasions addressed them whenever he visited Kerala. He had often mentioned that the Party in Kerala had inspired him very much.  Whenever he spoke in public meetings, he used to commence his speech mentioning that communist party assuming power in Kerala in 1957 and the enacted land reforms were inspiration to the Left movements in India and Bengal in particular.   Similarly, the saga of Bengal in communist regime for more than three decades and the international acceptance of Jyoti Basu were inspiring factors for the people of Kerala. 

It was in 1986 that I became a member of the Politburo.  Each time we met, he would enquire about the Party and mass organisations in Kerala.  It is worth mentioning that his advices and suggestions have helped the Party in Kerala very much. 

As far as I am concerned, the most beloved colleague is no more. The legendary revolutionary life of Basu will surely be an inspiration to the entire peasants, working class and progressive movements of India through generations to come.