Raktima Bose & Ananya Dutta
Kolkata: A formal ceremony with state honours and a gun-salute by the Kolkata Police marked the end of a day-long string of events that marked the last journey of Marxist leader Jyoti Basu, as multitudes of people gathered to bid adieu to their leader here on Tuesday.
A large number of people lined the route of the procession to catch a last glimpse.
The procession began at 7-30 a.m. and stopped at certain destinations that had marked the milestones in his political life.
The narrow road leading to 31 Alimuddin Street, the State headquarters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), was draped with red flags, banners and festoons with pictures and slogans.
As a contingent of police strained every nerve to manage the crowd, party volunteers gave finishing touches to the platform, wrapped in red, where the body was to be kept.
Suddenly slogans such as Laal Salaam and Jyoti Basu Amar Rahe, rent the air and there was a hurried movement among the workers. The time was 8.10 a.m.
The body was brought to the party headquarters for one last time from the funeral parlour. Jyoti Basu was a regular presence at the party office since 1981, when the building was inaugurated, till 2009.
The body, draped in the CPI(M) flag, was lowered on to the platform by Prakash Karat, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat, Biman Bose and Nirupam Sen — against the painted backdrop of a smiling face of the former Chief Minister.
Soon afterwards, senior party leaders started paying floral tributes. The first to do so was Samar Mukherjee, the oldest surviving leader in the party’s top array.
Mr. Mukherjee was followed by Mr. Karat, Mr. Bhattacharjee, Mr. Yechury, Ms. Karat, Mr. Sen and other senior leaders including M.K. Pandhe, Kerala State Secretary of the party Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.
Party-members, clad in white and holding party flags, stood in silence. Jyoti Basu’s personal aide for last 32 years, Joykrishna Ghosh, broke down.
At 8.55 a.m., the body was put on an open vehicle bedecked with red flowers, flags and banners, for the journey to the State Secretariat.
It was a poignant moment as the vehicle reached the Secretariat, from where he had served as the Chief Minister for 23 years till 2000.
The Chief Minister, and Chief Secretary A.M. Chakrabarti, lay wreaths on the body, which was kept on an elevated platform.
A military escort of pall-bearers brought the body, mounted on a gun carriage, from the Legislative Assembly to Mohor Kunj, a citizen’s park, where a police contingent offered a guard-of-honour.
In a solemn ceremony attended by senior leaders of the CPI(M) and other Left parties, a two-minute silence was observed and three volleys were fired. As the Last Post was sounded, the body was taken to the Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research (IPGMER).
Biman Bose, Secretary of the West Bengal State Committee of the CPI(M) handed over the consent documents to Pradip Mitra, Director of the IPGMER, and received a certificate in return.