Farewell, Comrade Basu!

“Blessed is the leader who seeks the best for those he serves” is an adage that best describes veteran communist leader of India, Jyoti Basu, who passed away on January 17, 2010. He was 95 years old. Even in death, the great leader proved that he was a people’s man through and through. Mr Basu’s body will be donated for medical study and research while his eyes were donated to an eye bank right after his death.

While pursuing a law degree in Britain, Jyoti Basu developed an interest in Marxism. Upon his return to India, instead of practising law, he joined the Communist Party of India (CPI). He earned the respect of the party as well as the people by his dedicated work for people’s rights. He soon joined politics and was elected to the Bengal Provincial Assembly in 1946.

When the CPI split in 1964, Basu joined the CPI (Marxist) and was the last surviving member of the party’s first politburo. The split in CPI took place after differences between China and the Soviet Union emerged. The newly founded CPI(M) too had to face some opposition from within the party. Its focus on parliamentary politics led to differences with the radicals in the party who were more in favour of armed struggle and formed the Naxalites. They were of the opinion that Indian bourgeois parliamentary democracy was not a credible conduit for the people’s struggles. CPI(M) sided with the West Bengal government on the Naxalite issue.

Jyoti Basu became the chief minister of West Bengal in 1977 and ruled the state for 23 years, making him the longest-serving chief minister of independent India. He was CPI(M)’s most successful parliamentary leader. One of the criticisms of Basu’s term in West Bengal was that his pro-people policies discouraged investment in the state. He later accepted that in capitalist India, socialism was not possible and there was a need to attract domestic and foreign investment, but that change of policy did not succeed either. In 1996, he came close to becoming the prime minister of India but due to a party decision, he was denied the opportunity. He later termed this decision a historic blunder because India was not given a chance for a Left alternative at the Centre.

Jyoti Basu wanted to make India a classless society. The land reforms he oversaw in West Bengal won praise from many sides. When asked in a 2005 interview if the world was closer to the goal of a classless society, he said, “That will take a longer time now, of that I am sure, because of what has happened in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe…we are still optimistic about our objectives. It will take time. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but later on. We hope for the best.” Here’s to Comrade Basu’s optimism and a world free of class-based society. Farewell comrade!

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Anonymous said…
Why are pakistanis so extremist in mind set? either they are Right extremist maniacs or Left sympathizers. Mehmal all said and done about Basu, India would never want to have a leader like Basu in coming years. That guy is a failure to the core who distributed poverty. You know what they say- Communists dont believe in heaven or hell hence they made West Bengal.

Doing what is best for the country or people without any prejudices is the right thing to do. Philosophies wont work what is needed is strong intention to improve the lives of people, Ideology will evolve in the process, like the case in China. Stop admiring people who have no contributions to boast about in building this country.

Basu was an opportunist at best and a goon at worst.

There is no class struggle in India only caste struggle...What ever struggle it is none have added any value to the country, Ordinary and Enterprising Indians Sweat it out will the Basus of the world claim the credit. Nonsense piece of article.
mehmal said…
Dear Mr/Ms Anonymous, thanks for your feedback but I don't think that calling it 'nonsense' is entirely correct.

I am a leftist, which is why I do have a biased opinion but even then I have tried to balance my views and I did write that Basu's economic policies were not favourable for investment.

That said, Basu was a gentleman and he tried to serve his people as much as he could. He failed in some areas and was successful in others. Please give credit where credit is due... it was the Left that saved your economy in the long run, especially during recession.
CoderInMaking said…
Hi Mehmal,
Your stand on IPL auction is being supported by none other then Shahrukh and P. Chidaram. I hope that cheers u a bit.


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