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Jyoti Basu: A profile

Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Jyoti Basu was born on July 8,1914 as Jyoti Kiran Basu into an upper middle-class Bengali family in Kolkata.

Written by ANI | Kolkata | Published: January 17, 2010 12:51:44 pm

Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Jyoti Basu was born on July 8,1914 as Jyoti Kiran Basu into an upper middle-class Bengali family in Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta).

*His father,Nishikanta Basu,was a doctor from the village of Bardi in Dhaka District,East Bengal (now in Bangladesh),while his mother Hemalata Basu was a housewife.

*Basu’s schooling started at Loreto School at Dharmatala,Kolkata,in 1920. It was there where his father shortened his name and he became Jyoti Basu. However he was moved to St. Xavier’s School in 1925.

*He completed his undergraduate education and received honours in English from the Hindu.

*After completing his undergraduate studies in 1935,Basu set out for England for higher studies in Law. It is said that Basu attended lectures of Harold Laski in late 1930. It was in England that Basu was introduced to the activities of politics through the Communist Party of Great Britain.

*During his stay in England,he was actively associated with the India League and the Federation of Indian Students in England.

In England he was inspired by noted Communist Philosopher and prolific writer Rajani Palme Dutt.

*In 1940,he completed his studies and qualified as a Barrister at the Middle Temple. In the same year,he returned to India.

*In 1944,Basu became involved in trade union activities when CPI delegated him to work amongst the railway labourers. When B.N. Railway Workers Union and B.D. Rail Road Workers Union merged,Basu became the general secretary of the union.

*He was elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1946.

*After partition,he was a member of the Assembly but was arrested when the Communist Party of India was banned following a call for open revolt. He was released on the orders of the High Court and was a Legislative Assembly Member between 1952 and 1972.

*In the 1950s,Basu and Parmode Das Gupta became joint leaders of the West Bengal Communists.

*He was state party secretary and led the parliamentary tactics of the CPI in Bengal against the Congress.

*The anti-Congress nature of Bengal Communism led Basu to align with the Communist Party of India (CPI(M)) following the division of the Communist Party of India in 1964.

*In 1967,Basu became Deputy Chief Minister in a coalition United Front government in Bengal in which the CPI (M) was one of the leading parties. This coalition collapsed after eight months.

*Fresh elections were held in February 1969 in which the CPI (M) emerged as the largest party. Basu was again Deputy Chief Minister in a United Front government that lasted until 1971.

*In 1977 Basu was elected to the Parliament from Satgachia and became West Bengal Chief Minister. Under his leadership the CPI (M) has won five successive elections since (1982,1987,1992,1996). It is the largest democratically elected Communist movement in the world.

*Basu was a member of the CPI (M)”s Politburo since 1964. He was influential in shaping the party”s domestic and international policies. Of particular importance,since 1991,was the tactical support given to parties and groupings opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party. This brought the CPI (M) closer to Congress,but the party avoided an outright coalition.

*Basu was recognized as a clever tactician who used parliamentarism to create conditions for the success of Communism in West Bengal.

*He acquired a high reputation as a political leader and,following the national elections to parliament (1996),was considered a possible candidate for Prime Minister.

*Basu seemed all set to be the consensus leader of the United Front for the post of Prime Minister,but the CPI (M) Politburo decided not to participate in the government,a decision that he later termed a historic blunder.

* He resigned from the West Bengal Chief Ministership in 2000 due to health reasons,and was succeeded by fellow CPI (M) politician Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

*Basu holds the record for being the longest-serving Chief Minister in Indian political history.

*The 18th congress of CPI (M),held in the national capital in 2005,re-elected Basu to its Politburo,although he had asked to be allowed to retire from it.

*On September 13,2006,Basu entreated the CPI (M) to allow his retirement due to his age,but was turned down. General Secretary Prakash Karat said that the party wanted Basu to continue until its 2008 congress,at which point it would reconsider.

*At the 19th congress in early April 2008,Basu was not included on the Politburo,although he remained a member of the Central Committee and was designated as Special Invitee to the Politburo

*The veteran leader was admitted to the AMRI hospital in Kolkata on January 1,2010,following a severe chest infection. The doctors after conducting a proper check-up had detected that he was suffering from slight pneumonia.

*On January 15,2010,haemo-dialysis was done to remove toxins from Basu’s body,as there was a further deterioration in his cardiac and renal functions.

*On January 16,2010,his health condition became extremely critical and he was suffering from multiple organ failure.

*On January 17,2010,Basu died at the age of 95.

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