Bangladesh parliament has passed a unanimous resolution paying tributes to the veteran Communist leader and former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu who died Sunday and recalled his contribution to the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to fly Tuesday to Kolkata to pay respects to Basu, who had known her father, former president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
During an hour-long debate in Jatiya Sangsad (national assembly) that preceded the passing of the resolution, Sheikh Hasina said: “Jyoti Basu was not a name for South Asia, he was an institution. I must go there to pay my respect to the great leader.”
“He was not only a veteran politician, but also a guardian in politics in the sub-continent. India lost a great leader and great politician on his death. Bangladesh lost a well wisher and I personally lost a guardian,” Hasina said in an emotion-choked voice.
President Zillur Rahman and Hasina, in separate messages, offered deep condolences.
Basu, a former chief minister of West Bengal who was highly respected on both sides of the Bangladesh—India border, died Sunday after a prolonged illness. He was 95.
Rahman hoped that Basu’s ideals would “inspire all politicians”.
In another message to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Hasina expressed her profound shock at the demise of Basu.
“Today, we recall with deep gratitude Basu’s enormous support to our war of liberation in 1971,” Hasina said.
The Bangladesh PM also recalled his role and personal initiatives in strengthening bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh, particularly the efforts he had made in the conclusion of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty in 1996.
Recalling his role in signing of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty with India, she said that “without his support, it was difficult for Bangladesh to have fair share over Ganges water”.
Hasina also recalled Basu’s role in Bangladesh government’s move to bring back refugees from India after signing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty.
The premier said Jyoti Basu’s home at Sonargaon in Narayanganj district would be transformed into a library as per his wish.
Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia said that the news of the veteran political leader’s death has come as “a great shock to all democracy-loving people everywhere”.
Basu was a widely respected leader because of his integrity and dedication to welfare of the masses, she said.
Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus also expressed his shock at the death of the veteran communist leader.
Yunus, also managing director of Grameen Bank, said the death of Basu was “a great loss not just to Bengal but also to the world as a whole”.
“We have just lost a great son of the Bangla speaking world, Jyoti Basu. I am shocked and saddened that such a great leader and fighter against oppression and inequality, whose career spanned over seven decades, has left us.”
The Daily Star said in an editorial: “The people of Bangladesh will fondly recall Jyoti Basu for some very special reasons. He hailed from Barodi in the old Dhaka district, which made him a native son who made good on the broad Indian stage.
“And his support for and cooperation with the Bangladesh political leadership on the Ganges waters treaty in the late 1990s were gestures that strengthened further the terms of endearment which bound him and the people of Bangladesh in warm camaraderie.
“We mourn his passing. His was a soul the likes of which we will perhaps never experience again.”