Jyoti Basu on his life and politics

Sunday, January 17, 2010

KOLKATA - Veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu, who died here Sunday, was a man of strong views and never hesitated to speak his mind. Here are some of his comments on his life and politics:

On childhood:

“My mother came from an upper middle-class family, they were well-to-do landowners. My father, Nishikanta Basu, came from a relatively lower middle-class background.”

“I was 10 years old. Talk of revolutionaries and the fight for independence was in the air.”

In London:

“I was initiated to international politics in London. Entire Europe was restive. Fascist Mussolini had wrested power in Italy.”

“We formed the `London Majlis’ and I was its first secretary. The idea was to generate public opinion for the cause of Indian independence and collect subscriptions.”

On return to India:

“Marriage was being discussed. I did not attach importance to this. I knew there was a long and difficult political agenda ahead. Anyway, I got married.”

Political life:

“It never occurred to me that I would one day become an MLA, but the party thought otherwise. I had to abide by its directives.”

“My very first election as a candidate gave me a taste of what bourgeoisie elections were all about. It was baptism by fire. But all’s well that ends well.”

On undivided CPI:

“Raids and arrests were routine. Between September 1948 and January 1949, I worked openly in trade unions, maintaining the communication links with our leadership in hiding.”

Emergency rule:

“(Indira) Gandhi was scared. Her authoritarianism knew no limits. Thus she chose the option which all dictators faced with a critical situation coupled with the fear of losing power usually do: she opted to usurp all the rights of the people.”

Left Front government:

“It was exactly at 10.30 a.m. on June 21, 1977, that the first Left Front ministry was sworn in… Land reforms were our topmost priority.”

On politics:

“I have worked for the people of this country and in the process, been witness to many twists and turns of history,”

On Sino-Indian war:

“India and China went to war over the border dispute in 1962. The reactionary forces led by the Congress cried for war and inflamed passions. We said that talks were the only way; the reactionaries called us `anti-nationals’ for this.”

Centre-state ties:

“We kept up our sustained campaign for a review of centre-state ties and it was because of this pressure that the government of (Indira) Gandhi was forced to set up the Sarkaria commission on June 9, 1983.”

On Operation Bluestar (June 1984):

“If the centre had been keen and serious about a political settlement to the Punjab problem, then this operation could have been avoided.”

On Babri Masjid razing:

“On December 6 (1992), barbarians demolished Babri Masjid. We stood dishonoured in front of the entire world.”

(Excerpts from “Memoirs-A Political Autobiography: Jyoti Basu”, National Book Agency Pvt Ltd, Kolkata)

Filed under: Politics

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