In the death of Jyoti Basu, we have lost an able, efficient and towering leader. He executed many welfare measures in West Bengal, winning the hearts and minds of people. Unlike many others, he donated his body for medical research which demonstrated that he was not only a born communist but a humanist too. Lal salaam to the great leader!
Looking at the innumerable newspaper articles on Jyoti Basu made me realise how little we know of the achievements of our politicians. Basu’s life and achievements show that he was an almost ideal politician and administrator who truly cared about the progress and betterment of people.
Although his performance as Chief Minister was under a lot of scrutiny because of his limited and orthodox methods, his contribution to land reforms, women’s rights and the cause of the backward was truly commendable. What struck me most was his simple, humble but determined countenance under his larger-than-life facade, as recalled by his party members and personal staff.
The spontaneous display of grief we witnessed at the demise of comrade Basu was a recognition of his greatness as a leader. Political leaders who indulge in intimidations, equivocations, subterfuges and vainglory have a lot to learn from Basu. The dignity with which he stoically observed the most coveted post of Prime Minister going past him should serve as a lesson for politicians of all hues.
Between 1975 and 1983, I had the unique opportunity to attend the meetings of the National Development Council. In his speeches, Jyoti Basu used to offer valuable suggestions for improving the quality of planning and plan implementation by the Centre and the State governments. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to smile at his staunch criticism. Jyoti Basu not only implemented land reforms in West Bengal effectively but also launched educational campaigns on them by releasing advertisement in newspapers and journals.
Elections to panchayats and municipalities were held uninterruptedly in West Bengal from 1977. During floods, people from the villages used to migrate to Kolkata earlier. But Basu put an end to it by entrusting the responsibility and powers to village panchayats to deal with floods. The nation stands deprived of the last of the political visionaries.
Basu’s record long innings of 23 years as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, his path-breaking land reforms and democratisation of the panchayati raj institutions, among other schemes, bear ample testimony to the fact that he was a true leader of the masses. By donating his body for research, he complemented his life-long sacrifice in full measure. Basu da is no more but his legacy will live on forever.