People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 06

February 07, 2010

“We felt we were under a Banyan tree”

 

N S Arjun (INN)

Kolkata: January 18, 2010

 

There is a pall of gloom in Indira Bhavan, the place of residence of Comrade Jyoti Basu, a day after the legendary leader is no more. The personal staff are still unable to come to terms with the harsh reality.

Joykrishna Ghosh was sent to Comrade Jyoti Basu in 1977 after he became chief minister of the Left Front government by Comrade Pramode Dasgupta. He was part of his personal staff in the capacity of confidential assistant. He continued in that post till Comrade Jyoti Basu relinquished the post in 2000 and since then remained as personal assistant to him. He accompanied Comrade Jyoti Basu in all tours and was a main part of his personal staff.

Asked how he evaluated his experience with the legendary leader, Ghosh said “We always felt we were under a banyan tree. He had so much love and affection for all his staff and more importantly he always made us feel secure. He led a very simple life and health permitting he used to work very hard till midnight on some days. He was a very punctual man and was never late to appointments or meetings.” About the remarkable thing he found in Comrade Jyoti Basu's nature, Ghosh had this to say: He was a very good listener not just with leaders but all sorts of people. In fact he behaved in a very good manner with the entire staff, never losing his cool despite mistakes committed by them. It is very hard to believe that such a great leader is no more with us.”

Rabindranath Das, an irrigation department employee, has been working as part of staff for the last seven years. He broke down when we approached him for comments. “I cant believe that Saheb will not come and sit here anymore. The last time I spoke to him was on January 1, 2010, just before his admission into AMRI hospital. I had given him boiled apple, which he loved the most, and he told me not to call the physiotherapist as he was not feeling well.”

Telephone assistant, Pradip Bandopadhyay, revealed the good nature of Comrade Jyoti Basu.  “I was 22 years old when I joined here, and in my initial days I used to make mistakes. He never said anything. Instead he used to teach me how to perform my duties effectively.” Pradip Pal, Comrade Basu's personal driver, echoed this. “He was such a nice man. He never used to scold anyone. We are ordinary people, but he never scolded us even if we made mistakes. He used to give everyone his due respect.”

Everyone who performed some duty or other at Comrade Jyoti Basu's place of residence felt that they are a privileged lot and that it has been a great honour to be able to serve a man of such stature.