Saturday, 11 July 2009

Joyti Basu's 96th Birthday - Many Happy Returns

Greetings to Joyti Basu - Many Happy Returns
Com. Joyti Basu will always be remembered not only as a veteran communist leader and mentor but also for his great statesmanship. As a young student I recall in late 1960s he came to Jaipur and gave lecture at the Humanities Hall of Rajasthan University. The hall was fully packed although then left wing students group was very small but his impressive personality and spellbound and firebrand speech attracted a large gathering regardless of ideology. I believe this was the time when Youth Congress goons under Priyarajnan Das Munsi were lashing out terror on Communist Party to derail their First Left Front Govt. A young lecturer in the audience, not appeared to have convinced, told him that he wanted to have the last words. Com. Basu unwittingly replied, "No, why should I have the last word? Only History would have the last words". It was not too late when I joined the Students' Federation of India and became its first Convener in Rajasthan in 1970. I met him a few times and I recall translating one of his public speeches in Jaipur. Next, I met him after a year or so and he gave speech without any translator. in 1980s he came to US when Shidarth Shanker Ray was Ambassador (a former arch rival gave him warm welcome) for exploring NRI investment in Wets Bangal and to deliver a Convocation speech at the MIT. Being a former comrade I tried to invite him to give a lecture in Pittsburgh but it appeared he was monopolised by US Bengali lobby who had no ideology.
Of course, Joyti Basu of 1970s was different from ailing Joyti Basu of today, although unlike Mr Bhuddhdeb Bhattacharya, he ruled West Bengal for 33 years trouble-free and could have made a difference to left moment if was allowed to become a Prime Minister in 1996 JNU's inexperienced and easy chaired Politburo ideologues. However, in his late ailing days as it happens to all radical with exception Bartend Russell (who said, "It better to be red than dead") did not hesitate to advocate Bourgeoisie Democratic Revolution without the dictatorship of preliterate - a contradiction of his past hard- line for which CPI(M) split from the united CPI.
He vacated the office of Chief Minister of West Bengal in October 2000 after heading five Left Front Governments over a period of 23 years. "I am happy about two things: the BJP is out of office and our Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is doing very well." Although his first desire was met unfortunately, his successor Buddhdeb Bhattacharya did not do pass the Marxian litmus test as he has alienated the CPI(M) from the people, i.e. , the Party that claimed to represent the tangible consciousness of working class.

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