JYOTIRINDRA BASU (8 July 1914 – 17 January 2010); known as JYOTI
BASU was an Indian politician belonging to the Communist Party of
* 1 Birth and education
* 2 Return to
* 3 Political career
* 3.1 Entry into politics * 3.2 Later political career * 3.3 As the Chief Minister of West Bengal * 3.4 Criticism
* 4 Death, tribute and legacy * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 External links
BIRTH AND EDUCATION
Jyotirindra Basu was born 8 July 1914 at 43/1 Harrison Road (now
Mahatma Gandhi Road) in
Basu's schooling started at Loreto School at
After completing his undergraduate studies, Basu left for England to
study law in 1935. In England, he was introduced to politics and
became greatly influenced by the
Communist Party of Great Britain . He
attended lectures by
Harold Laski at the London School of Economics
and was also influenced by noted Communist ideologue and prolific
Rajani Palme Dutt , a fellow Bengali . Between 1936 and 1940,
Basu involved himself in various political activities, came into
contact with several Indian freedom fighters including Nehru, became a
member of the
RETURN TO INDIA AND MARRIAGE
After returning to India, Basu had become an active member of the Communist Party, to his father's chagrin. After Basanti's death, he deepened his involvement, virtually giving up the pretense of earning a living as a lawyer. His legal practice was mostly about providing legal services pro bono to the party and its affiliates, in particular to trade unions. He lived as always with his father and extended family (as per Indian custom ) and thus had little need to earn a living. As a young barrister studying in England, he had been a prize catch for any family with a marriageable daughter, but the situation was altered now, and proposals were not plentiful. Several years passed, and Basu's father and other family members grew anxious to see him settled again. In time, they arranged for him to marry another suitable girl of their caste and background. This was Kamala, who Basu married on Dec 5, 1948. The marriage, which conformed in every way to Indian tradition and convention, was harmonious and lasted until their deaths more than sixty years later. On Aug 31, 1951, the couple became the parents of a girl child, born at Sishumangal Hospital in Kolkata. Tragically, the unnamed baby died only a few days later of diarrhoea and dehydration. In 1952, the couple were blessed with the birth of a son, Subhabrata Basu, fondly known as 'Chandan' by one and all. Chandan, who was to be the couple's only surviving child, was born while Basu was in prison for allegedly seditious activities, having been incarcerated by the Congress-led government of independent India.
Shortly after Chandan was born, Basu's father, Nishikant Basu, wrote a will which disinherited Basu entirely and vested all his property, a considerable fortune which included the massive mansion in Kokata, in the name of his daughter-in-law Kamala, with provision that the property be inherited by Chandan eventually. The elderly bhadralok patrician had been aghast, even distraught, to find that his beloved son had returned from England a communist, and that he had developed over the next decade (the 1940s) into a violent revolutionary. Basu was to say later that the arrangement suited him perfectly, that indeed it had been devised in consultation with him; it ensured that Kamala was always able to feed the family and pay for her son's education, which left Basu free from the tension of having to provide for his wife and son, and enabled him to pursue his political activities exactly as he wanted.
ENTRY INTO POLITICS
Part of a series on
COMMUNISM IN INDIA
* M.P.T. Acharya
Colonial Period and Partition
* Labour Kisan Party
Workers and Peasants Party
Cold War years
* Naxalbari uprising * Srikakulam * CPI(M-L)
* CPI(M) * CPI * CPI(ML) Liberation * SUCI(C)
* v * t * e
Jyoti Basu's first track in politics was his effort to organise the
Indian students studying in United Kingdom, mostly for the cause of
Indian independence . Basu subsequently joined
Basu was introduced to the
Communist Party of Great Britain by
another communist leader and Basu's friend in England,
Bhupesh Gupta .
It is told Basu showed interest to join CPGB but the then Secretary
However Basu returned to
Basu became the secretary of Friends of Soviet Union and Anti-Fascist Writers' Association in Kolkata. As a member of the Party, his initial task was to maintain liaison with underground Party leaders. He was entrusted with responsibilities on the trade union front from 1944. In that year, Bengal Assam Railroad Workers' Union was formed and Basu became its first secretary. In 1944 Basu became involved in trade union activities when CPI delegated him to work amongst the railway labourers. When B.N. Railway Workers Union and B.D. Rail Road Workers Union merged, Basu became the general secretary of the union. In 1946, Basu was elected to the Bengal Provincial Assembly from the Railway Workers constituency. Ratanlal Bramhan and Rupnarayan Roy were the other two Communists who were elected. From that day on, Basu became one of the most popular and influential legislators for decades to come.
Basu played a very active role in the stormy days of 1946–47 when Bengal witnessed the Tebhaga movement, workers strikes and even communal riots.
In the late 1940s, Basu served as the Vice-President of the All India Railwaymen\'s Federation until Communists were expelled from the union for attempt to organize strikes after the union had withdrawn its strike notice.
After the country gained independence, he was elected to the assembly from Baranagar in 1952. He was elected to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1991 and 1996. Though an elected member, Basu was arrested several times during the 1950s and 60s and for certain periods he went underground to evade arrest by the police.
LATER POLITICAL CAREER
Basu was elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1946,
contesting the Railway constituency. He served as the Leader of
Opposition for a long time when Dr.
Bidhan Chandra Roy was the Chief
Minister of West Bengal.
Through the 1972 elections the Congress returned to power in West
AS THE CHIEF MINISTER OF WEST BENGAL
After the sweeping victory of the Left Front in 1977, Jyoti Basu
Chief Minister of the Left Front government, a position he
held continuously for more than 23 years, a record in the country.
Under his leadership, the Left Front government embarked on land
reforms on a scale unprecedented in the country; it instituted a
panchayati raj system which was radical for its times, which gave the
poor peasants and small farmers a say in running the panchayati
institutions. As per leftists,
West Bengal became an oasis of communal
harmony and secular values under his leadership as there were always
reports of communal clashes in West Bengal, while various measures
were introduced to promote social and economic development in West
Bengal, however these measures never fully gave results expected and
West Bengal remains a poverty ridden state. Basic land reform was
instituted, while irrigation and rural electrification were extended.
In addition, India's first comprehensive system of democratic
decentralisation was established. Agricultural production came out of
a slump that it had been in for decades before the Left Front came to
power, and during the Eighties and Nineties the state showed the
highest rates of agricultural growth among the 17 most populous Indian
states. As a result of institutional changes and agricultural growth,
levels of nutrition improved and rural poverty declined noticeably.
One has to recall how as
Chief Minister he dealt with the situation
after the assassination of
Indira Gandhi in 1984 when violence against
Sikhs broke out in various parts of the country, but nothing was
allowed to happen in West Bengal. Similarly he dealt firmly with
efforts to instigate trouble after the demolition of the Babri Masjid
in 1992. In 1996
The 18th congress of CPI(M), held in Delhi in 2005, re-elected Basu
to its Politburo, although he had asked to be allowed to retire from
it. On 13 September 2006, Basu entreated the CPI(M) to allow his
retirement due to his age, but was turned down. General secretary
Prakash Karat said that the party wanted Basu to continue until its
2008 congress, at which point it would reconsider. At the 19th
congress in early April 2008, Basu was not included on the Politburo,
although he remained a member of the Central Committee and was
He emerged as the pre-eminent and most popular leader of the Party,
but he always worked as a disciplined member of the Party, setting an
example for all. In his long career in the Party, he undertook various
responsibilities including being the first editor of People's
Democracy. He had a lifelong association with the trade union movement
and was the Vice-President of the
Centre of Indian Trade Unions
Some commentators feel Basu was more of a democratic socialist than a traditional Communist. "He made Communism look respectable," according to Sabyasachi Basu Roy Choudhuri, a Calcutta-based political analyst.
Sumon K Chakrabarti , the national affairs correspondent for CNN-IBN , said in his blog that during Basu's tenure as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, the state saw continuous industrial decline . Basu has been criticised for the initial support of trade unions against the use of computers, which affected employment; and the charge that his party members engaged in corruption and rigging of elections.
DEATH, TRIBUTE AND LEGACY
On 1 January 2010, Basu was admitted to AMRI hospital (Bidhannagar,
The death was followed by public mourning on an unprecedented scale.
Draped in the party flag, Basu's body was driven through the streets
Calcutta on a gun carriage. However, the time schedule went awry in
his last moments as thousands of people thronged the streets of
Tributes poured in from politicians across the country. While Patil said "the nation has lost a veteran and eminent public figure," Manmohan Singh said Basu was a politician to whom he often turned for "sagacious advice". Basu was a leader "who displayed his abilities as a leader of the people, an able administrator and eminent statesman", the president said in a statement. "In the years after he relinquished the Chief Ministry, he continued to be looked upon as an elder statesman, whose advice was sought by many political leaders in the state," the president added.
In a message to Jyoti Basu's son Chandan, Manmohan Singh said: "He was a powerful regional voice in the national political scene and helped to strengthen Indian federalism... He was a man of great integrity with a deep commitment to secular values." He added:"I have personally had a very long association with Basu. On many occasions in my career, I turned to him for his sagacious advice on all matters, whether they related to West Bengal or to issues of national importance". Vice President Hamid Ansari said Basu had left behind a void that would be difficult to fill. "His sagacity and leadership at both the state and the national level have been a source of inspiration and guidance," Ansari said in a statement.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that Basu led for
several years expressed "profound grief", saying he was a Marxist who
was not dogmatic. "
Lok Sabha speaker and Communist leader
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said he would miss a well-wisher. "In his death, I have lost a great well-wisher, and the country has lost an able administrator, an outstanding parliamentarian and a charismatic political leader," Mukherjee told reporters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the staunchest anti-Communist force in the country, mourned the death of the Marxist leader, describing him as a "role model for Indian politics". In a moving tribute, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley told reporters here that Basu, who was West Bengal's chief minister for 23 long years, was one of the "tallest leaders" in Indian politics with "high credibility". "He was devoted to his ideology and played the longest innings in Indian politics," Jaitley said. Former prime minister and senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee said Basu's demise had "ended a chapter in the country's politics".
P. Chidambaram told reporters in Kolkata: "He was a
colossus who straddled India's political scene for many decades. Not
only the leader of West Bengal, but of India. He was a great patriot,
great democrat, great parliamentarian and great source of inspiration.
He served the people of
Basu had pledged to donate his body and eyes for medical research on
4 April 2003 at a function organised by Ganadarpan and Susrut Eye
The Trinamool Congress-run government has decided not to rename
Rajarhat New Town after Jyoti Basu. The renaming proposal was a part
of the New Town
* ^ Obituary: