Castro combined revolutionary fervour with attention to detail: Yechury

The CPI(M) leader had met the Cuban President in the early 1990s.

Updated - February 19, 2017 09:56 am IST

Published - November 26, 2016 02:17 pm IST - Bengaluru

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

The death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro signifies the end of an era, but his legacy as a legend and source of inspiration will continue to live on, said Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), who had met him several times and discussed at length the state of Indian economy and politics.

“He was one of the great revolutionary heroes of our time, who steered a backward Cuba to what it is today: a country with high literacy and state-of-the-art medical science sector,” Mr. Yechury said on the sidelines of an interaction here on Saturday.

"I would carry the handbook of statistics to be able to answer Castro during the meetings."

The CPI(M) leader had met the Cuban President in the early-90s, during which “the remarkable attention to detail” remained etched in memory. “I’ve had the fortune of meeting him around four times. After the first two times, I was afraid of meeting Castro! He would bombard you with questions about the economy of the country. He would ask about the production of steel, cement, and foodgrain, land under cultivation, among others. In the subsequent meetings, I would carry the handbook of statistics to be able to answer him. This combination of revolutionary fervour and attention to detail is unique,” he said.

Mr. Yechury had travelled to Cuba in 1993 as a part of a delegation — including the then West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu — of Communist leaders. It was before midnight that they met Castro. In a previous recollection of the meeting, Mr. Yechury had said that the Cuban leader commented that while he did not expect a man of Mr. Basu’s age to know statistical details, Mr. Yechury as a young man should know them.

While Mr. Yechury was barely six years old when there was an armed revolution in Cuba in 1959 which saw Fidel Castro coming to power, he says. But the stories heard of the “people’s revolution” and the socialist policies soon after had moulded his thinking.

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