The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has described Jyoti Basu as the tallest leader of the Communist movement in the country and a symbol for the Left, democratic and secular forces who was respected across the political spectrum and accepted as a national leader.

Expressing its profound grief at the passing away of Mr. Basu, the party’s Polit Bureau said in a condolence resolution that he belonged to the leadership of the CPI(M), which steered the party through the difficult days of semi-fascist terror in West Bengal in the early 1970s.

After the sweeping victory of the Left Front in 1977, Mr. Basu became the Chief Minister, a position he held continuously for over 23 years.

Under his leadership, the Left Front government embarked on land reforms on a scale unprecedented in the country; instituted a panchayati raj system that was radical for its times and West Bengal became an oasis of communal harmony and secular values, it said.

“Jyoti Basu became a symbol for the Left, democratic and secular forces in the country. In West Bengal, the people adored him and respected him for his championing of their cause. He became the role model for all Communists and progressives on how to work in parliamentary institutions and serve the people,” the resolution said.

Mr. Basu, as Chief Minister and Left leader, played an important role in pushing for restructuring of the Centre-State relations and rallying other Chief Ministers and political leaders for the cause.

He was a Marxist who never wavered in his convictions. After the fall of the Soviet Union and setbacks to socialism, Mr. Basu, along with his colleagues in the Polit Bureau, provided the leadership to make a reappraisal of the experience of building socialism and pinpointed the errors to correct wrong notions and understandings while remaining true to Marxism-Leninism, the resolution said.

“He was a Marxist who was not dogmatic and continued to learn from his vast experience in charting out the course for the party.”

Mr. Basu emerged as the pre-eminent and most popular leader of the party and always worked as a disciplined member of the party, setting an example for all. Even after stepping down as Chief Minister in 2000 due to advanced age and ill health, he continued to work and discharge his responsibilities till the end and became the source of inspiration and a fountain of advice for the party and the Left movement.

“Irrespective of political affiliation, across the political spectrum, he was respected by all and accepted as a national leader,” the Polit Bureau said, noting that the Left movement in India was fortunate in having such an accomplished and dedicated leader at the helm of affairs in West Bengal and in the leadership of the CPI(M) for such a long time.

While stating that his precious legacy was there for the party to cherish and nurture, the Polit Bureau saluted the memory of its “beloved departed comrade” and pledged to carry forward his cause and work. The Polit Bureau conveyed its heartfelt condolences to his son, Chandan Basu, granddaughters and other family members.

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