As I paid my last respects to Jyoti babu at the overwhelmingly crowded gate of the AMRI Hospital on January 17, I asked myself whether the Marxist leader’s saga had ended. I soon realised that it was not so. He continues to live in the hearts and minds of people across generations, the political spectra and international boundaries.
To me, he was a role model of pragmatic Marxism. I respect him for not only his charisma (or because he attended my wedding in 1971) but also his unblemished personal conduct and genuine concern for all sections. His unshakeable conviction to the cause influenced countless people.
It is hard to believe that Jyoti Basu is no more. The Communist patriarch was an epitome of simplicity, integrity and probity in public life. With his passing away, India has lost a great patriot, statesman, and progressive thinker. Truly, his death marks the end of an era.
Jyoti Basu’s traits and concomitant actions are worthy of appreciation and emulation by even his bitterest political opponents. He was for accepting the Prime Minister’s post not out of love or greed for power but out of his commitment to the party ideology which, he rightly felt, could not be implemented without power. At the same time, he was readily and unhesitatingly willing to be bound by party discipline when the offer was turned down by the CPI (M) Polit Bureau.
Basu was a champion of social justice. His two decades of experience as Chief Minister would have made him an ideal Prime Minister. The CPI (M)’s decision to turn down the offer to him was indeed a historic blunder. Jyoti Basu was the Prime Minister India missed.
Basu’s life was one of continuous dedication to the Communist movement in India. Indeed, he was a living legend, now an adorable memory. The most fitting tribute to him lies in the words of Julie Burchill: “Tears are sometimes an inappropriate response to death. When a life has been lived completely honestly, completely successfully, or just completely, the correct response to death’s perfect punctuation mark is a smile.”
K. Gopakumar Menon,
Jyoti Basu was the son of a doctor. I am sure it would not have been easy for a ward of such a family to jump into a mass movement. When he decided to join politics, another illustrious son of Bengal, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, told him that “politics is not a bed of roses.” Perhaps no one understood it better than Jyoti babu. He knew it was the common man who was the prime concern of his party.
Another aspect of his political character was the respect he gave to the Opposition leaders. He never suppressed the voice of dissent. He believed that discussions could solve problems. An example was his meeting with Mamata Banerjee on the Nandigram issue. Perhaps it would be appropriate to quote a few lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “His life was gentle, and the elements So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up And say to all the world, “This was a man!”