People's Democracy

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


No. 28

July 14, 2013



Jyoti Basu’s Centenary Observance

Calls for Defending Democracy


From Our Special Correspondent in Kolkata


THE birth centenary of Comrade Jyoti Basu began on July 8 with a call to defend the ideology he represented and tirelessly worked for.


The CPI(M) state committee organised a public meeting in Mahajati Sadan in Kolkata which was addressed by Prakash Karat, general secretary of the CPI(M) Biman Basu, state secretary and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M). Leaders of the Left Front and other Left parties were present in the meeting. Thousands of people gathered to attend and had to listen to speakers standing outside on the road.


Speakers recalled the contributions of Jyoti Basu in the Left movement and in Indian politics.


The question of democracy, for which Jyoti Basu fought a long battle, came to the forefront.  Prakash Karat said, ‘’West Bengal blazed a new trail in democratic decentralisation under the leadership of Basu through panchayati raj which was institutionalised much before the 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution. The spirit of democracy and the great experiment of democratic decentralisation which developed and flourished under Basu is now under severe and vicious attack.  We are in the midst of a panchayat election that was sought to be scuttled and sabotaged by the powers that today are ruling West Bengal. The people, the Left Front and the democratic forces in the state will defend the legacy of Basu, who made the greatest contribution to the deepening of democracy in the country. They will fight back all these anti-democratic onslaughts that have been launched over the past two years in the state.”


“If you look back at the career of Basu, there is no other leader, irrespective of political party who has shown such a capacity, vision and determination to show that India remains and will be a democratic, federal and secular country,” Karat pointed out.


Describing Basu as a leader who knew how to work in parliamentary arena, Karat said he showed how a Communist Party should integrate work in the parliamentary forum with the movement outside. 


“The birth centenary of Basu should not be just an occasion for us to commemorate and pay tribute to his glorious life,” he said. It would be more meaningful to utilise the year-long observance of the leader’s birth centenary to spread the ideas he stood for, Karat suggested.


 “Whether it is a question of defence of democracy, defence of secularism or defence of working people, all contributing to a social transformation that will make India a more equitable and just society, this is what Basu stood for,” Karat said.


Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee recalled the early life of Jyoti Basu and said that after returning from abroad, he decided that the path of India’s liberation lied in liberation of the working class. Basu joined in the working class movement and worked among the dock and railway workers. Throughout his life, the ideology of working class was his ideological commitment.


Bhattacharjee said, Jyoti Basu brought the question of workers and peasants to the centrestage even within the legislature. His speeches within state assembly in support of peasants’ and workers’ struggles were historic. 


Bhattacharjee recalled how steadfastly Basu defended secularism and thwarted any attempts by communal forces when the Left Front government was in office. He said, ‘’We are faced with a new danger again. On the one hand, it is Congress with neoliberal policies and on the other hand, BJP with neoliberal policies plus Narendra Modi”.  He added, the doors of this state have been opened to the BJP and Modi. This is frightening.


Bhattacharjee pointed out that the panchayats, which empowered the poor are under serious threat. He called upon the people and the Left activists to work hard to keep the panchayats in the hands of the poor. 


Biman Basu, presiding over the meeting, outlined the struggling life of Jyoti Basu and how he built working class organisations despite heavy odds. He also reflected upon Jyoti Basu’s contribution to the cause of federalism in the country. It was Jyoti Basu who raised the demand of more powers to the states and brought the agenda to the centrestage of Indian politics. 


CPI(M)  also announced a year-long programme on the occasion of the birth centenary of Jyoti Basu. ''A wider programme cannot be chalked out initially as panchayat election is round the corner and also considering the fact that people will be busy in campaigns and polls,'' Biman Basu said. He said the Party would project the life and activities of Jyoti Basu through seminars, posters, documentaries and an effort for political education.


On July 8, red flags were hoisted in all parts of the state. In some districts, processions with Jyoti Basu’s portrait were organised. In many areas, blood donation camps were organised.


Respects were showered on Jyoti Basu in state assembly too. Leaders of different political parties paid rich tributes to Basu, particularly recalling his democratic way of functioning both as the opposition leader and chief minister and how he used to treat criticisms respectfully.


But the longest serving chief minister's centenary celebrations were surprisingly missing from the Writers' Buildings, where the present government has been observing birth anniversaries of luminaries throughout the year.