Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has expressed profound grief over the passing away of veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu.

In a statement, the AIDWA said Mr. Basu led West Bengal’s Left Front to a glorious and historic victory in 1977 and was Chief Minister for the next two decades. As Chief Minister, he played an immensely significant role in the enunciation and implementation of alternative policies to those of the Centre and other State governments. The land reform measures implemented by him remain unparalleled in the country.

The AIDWA noted that it was his government that introduced the practice of joint “pattas” for poor rural women along with men and also issued “pattas” for single women. It was significant that most of the beneficiaries of the land reforms were dalits, adivasis and Muslims. Mr. Basu exemplified secular principles and his commitment to secularism ensured that West Bengal remained free in the last three decades of the virus of communal conflicts and riots, which caused terrible carnage in the rest of the country, it said.

His strong commitment to gender equality was reflected in his emphasis on securing democratic rights for women in all spheres. Elected women in the panchayats of West Bengal exceeded the 33 per cent statutory limit before any other State.

In his address at the public meeting of the fourth AIDWA national conference in 1994, he highlighted the importance of women coming into politics, and the need for the Left movement to work towards the same. “While we dip the AIDWA banner in honour of his memory, we also re-dedicate ourselves to the battle for democracy, equality and socialism to which Jyoti Basu committed his entire life,” the statement said.