Marxist Veteran Jyoti Basu passed away

via Media Input published on January 17, 2010

Marxist veteran Jyoti Basu, who had a record 23-year stint as chief minister of an Indian state and almost became the country’s prime minister in 1996, died at a private hospital here 16 days after being admitted for pneumonia.

Basu, 95, a widower, died at 11.47 a.m. He leaves behind his only son Chandan.

Born July 8, 1914 in Kolkata, Basu became a barrister from London’s Lincoln Inn but decided to embrace communism after coming into close contact British Communist leaders like Harry Pollitt and Rajani Palme Dutt.

On returning to India, Basu became a whole-timer of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and worked among railway workers. He won his maiden election to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1946 from the Railway Constituency, and fast emerged as the most effective voice of the opposition in the House.

After India’s independence, Basu was elected to the state Legislative Assembly on 11 occasions.

When the CPI split in 1964, Basu became one of the founding leaders of the CPI-M.

In 1967 and 1969, Basu was deputy chief minister of consecutive United Front governments.

Basu was a role model for Indian politics: BJP

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the staunchest anti-Communist force in the country, Sunday mourned the death of Marxist leader Jyoti Basu, describing him as a “role model for Indian politics”.

In a moving tribute, senior BJP leader Arun Jatiley 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”.

“Jyoti Basu was unquestionably one of the tallest contemporary leaders in India… He was devoted to his ideology and played the longest innings in Indian politics,” Jaitley said.

The BJP leader said Basu was “a politician of high credibility. Our party deeply mourns his death. We pay great tribute to him. He is one of the leaders from whom we all have learned something.

“The strength of Indian democracy is that it gives you space for differences. Despite differences there are always leaders who are opposed to you, (yet) who have admirable qualities,” Jaitley added.

“He was a role model for Indian politics. His death is a loss for Indian polity.”

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