He was the last of the Mohikans. He was Comrade Jyoti basu, passed away at a very mature age of 96 years, but young in his outlook and expression.
From our boyhood we have noticed this single individual has had always been under the scathing attack of reactionary media, yet, he remained unperturbed and went on with his struggle for common man. I have hardly seen him giving any reply to the personal attack but was very much agile to refute and challenge the political attack.
I was quite thrilled to see the newspaper reporting about the police revolt and the unruly raid in the assembly house just to get the rebuff and admonition from Com Jyoti Basu. At that a young man like me started romanticising the courage of the person as well as his Marxist philosophy. Though, he had never had talk of high sounding philosophy while addressing the common man. On the contrary he would always talk of common man’s day to day problem and the need to get organised to solve their sufferings.
As a young boy, I found him maligned by the worker of the Congress party, as a Stooge of China – ‘Chiner dalal’. Almost everyday his effigies were burnt. He, however, remained unperturbed and concentrated more and more in his work to campgain to the countrymen about the party’s stand on Indo China conflict.
I have had a thrilling experience in sharing stage with him in an election campaign meeting at Hazra Park in South Kolkata. I was a stopgap Speaker, yet got inspiration from him. He was a very soft Spoken and precise Speaker. He had the ability to communicate a lot important things with a very few words. This was possible, in my opinion, as he had the ability to take a quick decision about the need of the commoners. Decision making ability is a very important aspect of leadership. In that respect, he has always been the master of the situation.
He has handled varities of responsibilities like the responsibility of the party secretary, editor of party organ, responsibility of organising trade unions, but his height as a people’s leader has surpassed everything.
His instant decision to withdraw from 1972 election accusing the same to be rigged one gave a new turn to the history of Indian Parliamentary Democracy. People in home and abroad believed that democracy in India was in peril. Moreso, when the entire world found that in 1975 internal emergency was declared by Smt. Indira Gandhi and spread the semifacist terror throughout the Country, which was initiated in Bengal in 1971. The effect of such terror was reflected even in the Supreme Court judgements.
In the wake of the massive mass struggle Ms. Indira Gandhi was forced to withdraw the emergency and go for election. Her party was wiped out from the political map of India. In 1977, West Bengal State Legislature election was held giving a thumping majority to the left front. Com Jyoti Basu being the leader of the front became the Chief Minister.
He has since then shown a new trend in the Indian Parliamentary Democracy. Because of the Congress misrule and deliberate discriminatory attitude the economic condition was in shambles in the state. Jyoti Basu as the leader of the CPI(M) and left front knew that decentralisation of power and strenghthening of local self govt. would enure to the benefit of development at grass root level. His comments on the date of the Oath taking as Chief Minister, that the governance would be made effective by decentralisation and power would not remain concentrate in Writers’ Buildings’, the seat of power of the govt.
Vesting of cealing excess land and distribution thereof to the landless poor peasants could be made successful through Panchayeti Raj. The new Panchayat Act and the Municipal Act, particularly the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act, 1980 has now become the model in the country. Reforms in these areas got immediate reflection in economic field. Food deficit West Bengal became food surplus state and in fact, in some of the agricultural products W.B tops the list.Gradually,poverty level has gone down,the village economy got strengthened. Contribution of Com Jyoti Basu in these fields have been recognised not only by the Scholars from various sectors but the poor people also by reposing their faith repeatedly on him.
Another important step he took is to make West Bengal self sufficient in electricity. In 1977 when he assumed office then West Bengal’s power position was abysmally poor. People from other state used to ridicule WB. Com Jyoti Basu took the Bull with the horn and turned the table making the state self sufficient in power.Some people who loves to enjoy the dark fails to see the bright side. He took the initiative to refurbish the image of W.B as a industry friendly state and was successful. Without going into the controversy of the statistical figure, it can be seen that big Industry houses have made W.B their destination. Conferences, meets of different chambers and industry houses give a tell tale story of this. What is demonstrable cannot be denied by jugglary of statistics. That’s why he was respected by all the political leaders even, at the national level. Whenever Country was in political crisis he was in hand to give his suggestion and advice the govt. at the Centre and all concern.
He is the only leader the Country has ever seen who could refuse the Chair of Prime Minister on a principled stand of the party, to which he was the leader.
He has left behind his ideas which needs to be fulfilled by all of us the fellow Indians.