Sonia, Sheikh Hasina among leaders expected to arrive
Kolkata: Kolkata is set to give Communist Party of India (Marxist) patriarch Jyoti Basu the Red Salute on Tuesday. United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Krishna Advani, are among dignitaries who are expected to arrive here to pay their tributes.
Addressing a press conference at the State headquarters of the CPI(M) on Monday, State Committee Secretary Biman Bose said: “Jyoti Basu will be given a guard of honour and a gun salute on his last journey before his body is handed over to a city hospital for medical research as per his wish.”
Among other political leaders who have confirmed their arrival are BJP president Nitin Gadkari, Union Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav.
Mr. Bose said that while all members of the CPI(M)’s Polit Bureau, the Central Committee and the State Committee would be at the party headquarters, other dignitaries from home and abroad would pay their homage at the State Assembly building where his body would be kept for five hours.
Consul General of the People’s Republic of China Mao Siwei visited the party headquarters here and placed a wreath. He wrote in the condolence book: “Deepest condolence for the passing away of India’s greatest Communist and China’s great friend, Comrade Jyoti Basu.”
The CPI(M) will take out silent mourning processions in every part of West Bengal from January 19 to 24, and the Left Front Committee would organise a commemoration on January 24 here, Mr. Bose said.
Change in schedule
In a change in the schedule already announced, the body will be first taken from the funeral parlour to the party headquarters at 31 Alimuddin Street. From there it will be taken to the State Secretariat, where the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary will pay their last respects. Then the body will be taken to the State Assembly for the public to file past. The body will be next taken to ‘Mohor Kunja,’ where a guard of honour will be offered. Then the hospital authorities will take over.
A platform is being built on the stairs of the West Veranda of the State Assembly to keep the body for the dignitaries and the public to pay their respects. Jyoti Basu had entered the Assembly for the first time as an elected legislator 65 years ago.
Informed sources in the Kolkata Police said adequate measures had been taken for the smooth conduct of the state funeral: some 2,000 additional policemen will be deployed.
A stream of mourners lined up before the CPI(M) headquarters and Indira Bhavan on Monday to pay their last respects as West Bengal started a two-day state mourning. A portrait of Basu was placed on a pedestal in front of the party headquarters to enable mourners to pay floral tributes. Mourners with bouquets and garlands also gathered in front of Indira Bhavan at Salt Lake.