People's Democracy

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


No. 04

January 23, 2011


Remembering Comrade Jyoti Basu


Biman Basu


COMRADE Jyoti Basu left us 365days ago. It was January 17, 2010. Comrade Jyoti Basu emerged as an outstanding leader of the Communist movement and the mass movement. After completing the studies in Law in England, he returned to Kolkata and expressed his willingness for full time political activities to Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad. Comrade Muzaffar Ahmad advised him to join trade union movement and Comrade Jyoti Basu started working in trade unions from 1940. Gradually he developed himself as an able working class leader.


Comrade Jyoti Basu worked in the working class movement and mass movement for more than six decades. He led the life as a Party whole timer for nearly six decades. He never treated his personal life above and beyond the Party. He devoted himself for communist movement under the guidance from the Party. He did not join the Communist Party for his personal gains nor did he spend such a life. His Communist life is an example for coming generations. He was jailed many times and had to remain underground to build up the movement and for Party activities. 


In 1946, when the Party was not that strong, Comrade Jyoti Basu was elected to Bengal Legislative Council from Railway reserved constituency as he was a railway workers’ leader. Since then, the state legislature saw his brilliant presence up to 2001. Only exception was those five years of sham assembly which was formed after rigged elections in 1972. That was the period of semi-fascist terror in West Bengal. Even Comrade Jyoti Basu was forcibly ‘defeated’ in that bogus election. 


Comrade Jyoti Basu, on the one hand, proved himself as one of the front ranking leaders of the mass movement in the fifties and the sixties, and on the other he played a leading role in building up two consecutive United Front governments in the sixties. In both the first and second United Front, he was the deputy chief minister. He was home minister as well as finance minister. Comrade Jyoti Basu established himself as an able administrator during United Front governments. 


Comrade Jyoti Basu played important part in defending democracy and establishment of peace during the period of semi-fascist terror in the seventies. “Subversion of Democracy”, a pamphlet written by him during that period is full of important facts of the time. Those days were, in fact, undeclared emergency in West Bengal which was to be imposed upon the whole of the country in 1975. That pamphlet by Comrade Jyoti Basu helped the organizers of movements of workers, peasants, students, youth, and women to understand the essence of emergency. He played an important role in the movement to withdraw the emergency. He propagated the on the democratic view this issue in different parts of the country and abroad. He played a significant role in determining the task of the Communists and the Left in the post-emergency political situation. In the parliamentary elections after the withdrawal of emergency, Congress, the chief motivator of that regime, was defeated and a non-Congress ministry led by prime minister Morarji Desai was formed. Later in West Bengal state assembly elections, the people rejected Congress, the killer of democracy. They were reduced to a weak minority. The Left Front got huge majority and first Left Front government was sworn with Comrade Jyoti Basu as chief minister. He was Chief Minister for 23years, a record not only in the state but in whole country. He led the government in implementing pro-people policies and made West Bengal a bright star in the annals of unity and harmony. To expand the process of development, Left Front government initiated formation of three-tier panchayats and local self governing bodies through elections. Comrade Jyoti Basu played pivotal role in this effort. He used to tell that the government will not function only from the Mahakaran (state secretariat in Kolkata). The developmental programmes will be implemented in villages through panchayats and in urban areas through municipalities. He implemented this idea in reality. The Left Front government under his leadership successfully implemented the land reforms and entitlement of share croppers, panchayat playing a big role in that. He made immense contribution in making the state self reliant in agriculture. For an all round development, Comrade Jyoti Basu introduced new industrial policy in 1994 in the cabinet and strived for industrial development of the state with the aim of employment generation. 


Comrade Jyoti Basu organized conclaves along with the Chief Ministers of other states with the demand for restructuring centre-state relations. He successfully projected at all India level the issue of distribution of powers --- the subjects which should be in the Union list and which are to be placed in state list. Though he was involved in political activities in the state, Comrade Jyoti Basu gradually emerged as a national leader.  


Though he is no more with us, the contributions made by Comrade Jyoti Basu in the Communist and mass movement, his ideas in defence of the interests of the people must be thoroughly realized by those who are joining political activities now. In West Bengal, ‘Jyoti Basu Centre for Social Studies and Research’ has been formed. The centre will include documentary materials about Comrade Jyoti Basu, a library, an auditorium, seminar rooms etc. Our application for a piece of land for this centre in Jyoti Basu Nagar has been approved. We will need money to buy the land and to construct the centre. In the first phase, a 10-day mass collection from all sections of people has been started from January 17, the first death anniversary of Comrade Jyoti Basu. We are confident that the people will contribute and cooperate in this effort to make this legendary leader’s memory ever shining. 


Comrade Jyoti Basu used a phrase quite often: “It is people who make history”. In the present political situation, we have to engage ourselves in intense campaign in the interest of the people. There is no other alternative for us. To defeat the conspiracies by the enemy, the unity of the poor people must be strengthened. To dedicate ourselves in that process is the most crucial task before us at this present juncture. 


I express my deep respect to Comrade Jyoti Basu’s memory.  Comrade Jyoti Basu will live in our hearts forever.