Tripura Remembers Jyoti Basu
THE life and legacy of Comrade Jyoti Basu would always be the guiding light for the party so as to come out of the hard days that the party is facing today, and to carry forward the cause of the toiling masses that the party has been striving for. This was the essence of the points made by speakers at an overflowing hall meeting on the occasion of observance of Jyoti Basu’s birth centenary year at Rabindra Shatabsrshiki Bhavan, Agartala on June 15. Biman Bose and Manik Sarkar, both Polit Bureau members of the CPI(M), addressed the hall meeting that was presided over by the party’s state secretary Bijan Dhar. At the outset, floral tribute and homage was paid at the image of the departed leader by the Polit Bureau members, Central Committee members, state secretariat members and state committee members present in the auditorium. Then followed the inaugural songs performed by two cultural units, namely Gandiv and Krishti Kala Kendra. Biman Bose, the CPI(M)’s West Bengal state secretary and Polit Bureau member, presented a brief life sketch of Comrade Jyoti Basu. Biman Bose narrated the atmosphere in Jyoti Basu’s family which was very much friendly with the freedom fighters. This deeply motivated young Jyoti to take to a jihad against British imperialism. A young boy, whom his parents sent to London to build up a bright carrier, thus got involved in India’s freedom struggle and came in touch with communist leaders like R P Dutta in London. Basu ultimately came back to India to become a party wholetimer and dedicated his whole life to the cause of the workers, peasants and other toiling masses of the country. While a party wholetimer, he adopted the Bengali language which he was never taught in academic institutions, Biman Bose informed. Bose also referred to Jyoti Basu’s role in the Tebhaga movement, in raising up women’s defence squads, his work among the railway workers, his guidance in the 1946 naval workers strike and all-India employees’ strike, his role in combating communal riots in 1946, his style of functioning underground when the party was banned in 1948, his leadership in the movement against the Bang-Bihar merger plan, his contribution in the relief work during the 1946 famine, his work as the party’s state secretary since 1953, his exemplary work as a legislator in West Bengal assembly which attracted people’s attention to the party’s work, and his leadership in the United Front governments in 1967 and 1969. Today it is not the first time, Biman Bose said, that semi-fascist terror has been let loose against the party in West Bengal. It was unleashed in 1972 and was combated and finally defeated by the party. Jyoti Basu’s work in those days would remain the guiding force in our endeavours to resist the ongoing all-out attack perpetrated by the ruling Trinamool Congress on the communists in West Bengal today. Referring to Comrade Jyoti Basu’s performance as a chief minister with the so far longest tenure, Biman Bose said Basu played a vanguard role in pressing for restructuring of the centre-state relations and organised several conclaves with the opposition chief ministers. This resulted in the setting up of Sarkaria commission which recommended several positive measures to protect the rights of the states against the centre’s whimsical attitude born out of political antagonism. Land reforms ensuring distribution of excess land to the poor farmers and establishment of barga rights in West Bengal were unequivocally appreciated by one and all, and became a model for the country. Basu won nationwide respect for his valiant stand during the anti-Sikh riot in Delhi in 1984 and Babri demolition in 1992. His flexible attitude but ideological firmness in leading a coalition government for 23 long years is a great lesson for all of us, Biman Bose said. Explaining the new situation in the country, Manik Sarkar said a pro-Hindutva party has now come to power in Delhi with the so far biggest share of seats in its life with a minority share of votes. In fact the BJP subtly and craftily exploited the fallouts of the Congress led UPA government’s misrule, which unleashed all-out attacks on the lives and livelihood of the common people of our country over the last ten years, coupled with huge scams involving trillions of rupees of the government exchequer. The BJP also had the blessings of the corporate lobby which lavishly poured out money for its poll campaign, Manik Sarkar said. However, Sarkar said, there is no reason to take this change as permanent or think that everything has been lost. The fact is that 69 percent of the voters did not support the BJP. We have to reach out to those sections of the people; we have to bring about a change in their thinking and consciousness. There is no room for getting frustrated. Comrade Jyoti Basu’s life and deeds teach us to go to the masses again and again. We must also approach the vast masses who do not support us. All the questions raised by them must be answered politely, with facts and reason. They must be imparted class consciousness and drawn to the mass and class organisations. The BJP has nothing good to render to the people. Rather it is committed to compensating the big corporate houses which helped it come to power. Our national unity and communal harmony are now under severe threat from the RSS, the hardcore Hindutva force that has always been controlling the BJP from behind the curtain. The CPI(M) alone cannot combat this danger. We must rally all the like minded secular forces with us. If we successfully do it, that would be the true homage to late Comrade Jyoti Basu, Manik Sarkar asserted. As for Tripura, Manik Sarkar said, Jyoti Basu always paid special attention to our state, particularly because of the extraordinary ethnic bonding of tribal and non-tribal masses in the state; this is something uncommon in other states of the country. He would cite this feature of the state while addressing the people in other states. Expressing deep respect for late Comrade Jyoti Basu in his opening speech, Bijan Dhar said Jyoti Basu was a beloved leader of the people of Tripura. He started visiting Tripura since 1951 and came here many times till 2005. He came here in our victory as well as in our hard days during 1988-93. He helped the state unit of our party with his valuable suggestions and advices on many occasions. If we look back upon the history of the Indian communist movement, we will see the communist party moving forward while facing one crisis after another. Referring to the poor performance of the party in Lok Sabha elections, emergence of the BJP as the ruling party with an absolute majority in the parliament, and the semi-fascist attacks let loose on the communists in West Bengal, a strong base of the party, Dhar said we are now undergoing yet another crisis, but that is no reason to be frustrated. The teachings of Comrade Jyoti Basu would show us the path to overcome this crisis, he concluded. The hall meeting ended with the rendition of Internationale in chorus.