Ray should have been cremated with full state honours: Pranab

Sunday, November 21, 2010

KOLKATA - Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday sharply criticised the Marxist-led West Bengal government for not according full state honours to former chief minister Siddartha Shankar Ray after his death, and regretted that such treatment of dead leaders has become a practice in the state.

“A former chief minister should always be cremated with full state honours. But those who are in government have not done this. But in every state of India, this protocol is being maintained,” said Mukherjee, addressing a condolence meeting for Ray here.

A lot of political furore was created over Ray not being accorded full state honours after his death. Ray, West Bengal chief minister (1972-77) and Punjab governor from 1986-89, was neither taken on his last journey on a gun carriage, nor was his body draped in the tricolour.

In contrast, Marxist icon and former chief minister Jyoti Basu was cremated with full state honours after his death in January.

“After independence the first chief minister of West Bengal Prafulla Ghosh, then first non-Congress chief minister Ajoybabu (Ajoy Mukherjee), then chief minister Prafulla Chandra Sen and now former chief minister Siddhartha Sankar Ray, if they are not given full state honours after their death, then we feel like there is a gap in performing our duty,” Mukherjee said.

“It hardly matters to the dead leaders whether state honours are given to them are not. Whether a gun carriage, gun salute and the last post is provided during the last journey, it hardly matters to the dead person. But we feel there has been a gap in performing our duty,” he said.

Mukherjee also lauded Ray’s foresightedness for his iron hand dealing with the Maoist movement.

“He had successfully dealt with the Naxalite (Maoist) problem with his foresightedness. He firmly believed that if any power with the help of the gun challenges a government democratically elected by the people, then that was unacceptable and the state should fight back.

“In carrying out the task, he had to face heavy criticism, but that could not deter him, and he performed his duty successfully,” he added.

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