Leaders from various parties on Wednesday assembled here to pay tributes to veteran Marxist leader, Jyoti Basu, said that he commanded national respect as a politician who followed party discipline and remained steadfast to his ideals.

The common thread was the manner in which he toiled for the poor and those who remained on the margins, one who initiated land reforms, strengthened democracy by extending it to panchayats and worked for communal harmony and an inclusive society. They said he lent stature to the political post and many said that had he become the Prime Minister in 1996, the course of history would have been different.

Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee (Congress), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference) paid their homage as did a galaxy of leaders including Mulayam Singh (SP), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Prakash Karat (CPI-M), A.B. Bardhan (CPI), Debabrata Biswas (AIFB).

Representatives of the Telugu Desam, Janata Dal (Secular), Revolutionary Socialist Party, Shiromani Akali Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and AIADMK and United Marxist Leninist (Nepal) also joined the meeting.

Mr. Mukherjee highlighted Jyoti Basu’s interpretation of the Constitution vis-À-vis the role of the head of a coalition government in the late 1960s, reflecting his pragmatic approach and that it remained relevant even now.

The Congress leader said that in the late 1960s the CPI(M) leader said in a coalition the leader of the government cannot exercise Constitutional supremacy of a head of the government since the decisions are taken collectively by constituent units in it.

CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan described him as a leader of the communist movement whose work in the West Bengal government remained a bright chapter.

Mr. Karat recalled that during his meeting in December, Mr. Basu remained concerned over the lack of growth of the party and cautioned that the movement was facing a tough time requiring greater effort and struggle.

The former Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal said the Sikhs were beholden to him for his deft handling of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

AIADMK MP V. Maitreyan said just as Jyoti Basu’s visionary land reforms, the party leader M.G Ramachandran’s nutritious meal for school children got adopted into national policy.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said besides being an able administrator who took several initiatives, Jyoti Basu was known to stand up and be counted when conditions were adverse and handled situations bravely.