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Updated: January 19, 2010 02:34 IST

We have lost a well-wisher, says Hasina

Haroon Habib
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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
The Hindu Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have paid deep condolences at the death of veteran Communist leader Jyoti Basu.

The Bangladesh Parliament unanimously adopted a condolence motion on Sunday paying tribute to Mr. Basu. The House followed an hour-long discussion on the condolence motion, adjourning other businesses scheduled.

“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,” Ms. Hasina said in a choked voice.

“He set up a role model to eliminate poverty and improve the social and economic lives of ordinary people,” Ms. Hasina said.

Recalling his role in the signing of the Ganges Water-Sharing Treaty with India, she said: “Without his support, it was difficult for Bangladesh to have its fair share of the Ganga waters.”

The Bangladesh Premier also recalled Mr. Basu’s role in Dhaka’s move to bring back refugees from India after signing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord.

She declared that Mr. Basu’s ancestral home at Sonargaon, near Dhaka, would be transformed into a library as per his wish.

Mr. Rahman, in a message said, Mr. Basu had made massive contributions to the socio-economic development of West Bengal through his dedicated leadership.

In another message to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ms. Hasina expressed her profound shock at the demise of Mr. Basu. “We recall with deep gratitude Mr. Basu’s enormous support to our War of Liberation in 1971.”

She also recalled Mr. Basu’s role and personal initiatives in strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

In a similar message, Opposition leader Khaleda Zia said the news of Mr. Basu’s death came as a great shock to all democracy-loving people everywhere.

PTI reports from New Delhi

Ms. Hasina and Bangladesh’s former military ruler Hussain Muahmmed Ershad will reach Kolkata on Tuesday to pay their last respects to Basu. She will lead a 30-member delegation that includes four of her Cabinet colleagues besides leaders of some of the constituents of the ruling 24-party Grand Alliance, including Mr. Ershad heading the Jatiya Party.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Awami League general secretary and Local Government and Rural Development Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, Deputy Leader of Parliament Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury will be part of the high-profile delegation.

Bangladesh Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon, who has long-standing links with the CPI(M) and Industry Minister and Sammayabadi Dal president Dilip Barua are also part of the delegation.

Ms. Hasina will return to Dhaka on Tuesday evening.

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