Left Observes Former Bengal CM Jyoti Basu's 109th Birth Anniversary, Charts Path for Future Political Action
Kolkata: On the 109th Birth Anniversary of West Bengal's former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, the late communist leader is remembered by a younger generation who only heard of his work as well as the older generation. Samprikta Bose (23), a research intern at Calcutta University and a PHd researcher in Ecology, hails "Jyoti Basu as an enigma who brought the lawlessness in the education sector to an end after swearing in as the Chief Minister of the state."
Bose told NewsClick, "He (Jyoti Basu) fought to start an education system where education is free up to Class 8 and is based on scientific anti-communal temper. Now, throughout the country, when Hindu fundamentalists are trying to alter the country's constitution and are changing the syllabus of universities and secondary education sector across the country, then it remains an inspirational model about how he brought changes to the education sector of the state to benefit all the students and teachers too by giving them respectful salaries which were denied during the earlier Congress era".
To her, Jyoti Basu is the torchbearer of the alternative path in education in the country. Bose, the General Secretary of the Calcutta University unit of the Students Federation of India (SFI), proudly said that her organisation is fighting it out in the state, assisted by the legacy of the communist doyen, and attracting newer generations to the SFI fold.
To Arjun Roy (28), Jyoti Basu remains the name of the brightest fighter for Leftist ideology, and his fight is legendary across the subcontinent.
Debrup Gupta (24), a Computer engineering graduate from UVM College of Engineering, Rajarhaat, was born in 1998, just two years before the communist leader relinquished the West Bengal Chief Minister's post. He said that he heard from his elders about how political anarchy had been thwarted in West Bengal under the stewardship of Jyoti Basu, his push for revitalising the government education system. "He was an ideal communist," Gupta said, adding, "During Babri Masjid riots, Jyoti Basu took stern steps so that not a single life was lost due to rioting in the state and is credited with the immortal statement that his police will break the head of any rioter."
According to Gupta, the late politician's dedication to the Leftist cause is also worth mentioning. He recollected seeing the funeral procession of Jyoti Basu on television when he was only ten years old on January 17, 2008. He said, "Jyoti Basu passed away eight years after stepping down from the Chief Ministerial post, but the people's participation in the funeral procession was amazing." It still haunts the youth that although he was willing to participate in that procession, he could only watch it on TV as none in his family was a communist worker and they did not take him there.
On Sunday, Samprikta, Arjun and Debrup were present at the ceremony organised at PDG auditorium in Kolkata by the Jyoti Basu Institute of Social Science at Research.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury delivered the keynote address at the seminar held as part of the event and themed on Indian Independence after 75 years.
India at 75
In his speech, Yechury traced his three-decade-long association with Jyoti Basu and recollected many snippets of his interaction with the former CM. He said that he had once asked Jyoti Basu about what is meant by the strength of a communist, to which he had replied that the secret lies in understanding and commitment to what you believe.
Yechury also said that after 1930s, three visions emerged about what will be the characteristics of the country after Independence. While the Congress advocated the vision of a secular democratic republic, the communists wanted an extension of the secular democratic republic to socialism by guaranteeing economic freedom to every people in the country. The Third vision was the Two Nations theory of Jinnah and Savarkar.
Savarkar's Hindutva had nothing to do with Hinduism but was a political agenda and he wanted the characteristics of India to be for the people of the country to whom India meant Fatherland, Motherland and "sacred land" (nortably, Muslims consider Mecca and Medina to be their scared land while for the Christians, it is Jerusalem), The recent comments of PM Modi calling for an end to 1200 years of slavery means that the constitution of the first sultanate has been earmarked by him as that date of start of slavery and thus, a commitment to the continuation of Savarkar's Hindutva, Yechury said.
The CPI(M) leader further said that the fight is still on, like that of the pre-freedom struggle years, about whether India will remain a secular democratic republic or be transformed into a fascistic theocratic state. He claimed that undermining India's present Constitution is ongoing. He also noted that activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad has been arrested for speaking out the truth regarding the Gujarat riots.
The four pillars of the present country, federalism, social justice, economic sovereignty, and secular democracy, are being undermined by the present Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre.
In his speech, Yechury also dealt with the formation of the United Front tactics and highlighted the works of both Jyoti Basu and Harkishen Singh Surjeet, two late communist leaders, in this regard.
He highlighted that attaining the present objective has always been the mainstay of the United Front strategy since the work of the alliance in West Bengal in 1969. Back then, to keep the Congress at bay, the Left party supported Ajoy Mukherjee, an offshoot of the Congress, and gave the Chief Ministerial position to him despite having numerical superiority themselves. Afterwards, to defeat the Emergency, the same tactics had been applied. During Rajiv Gandhi's rule, his former Finance Minister VP Singh was supported by the Left and the BJP to oust the Congress government from power.
Now, according to the resolution of the last Party Congress, the time has come to maximise the mobilisation of secular forces to defeat the BJP and preserve the secular democratic republic, Yechury said.
JBCSSR to Offer Thought Leadership
CPI(M) State Secretary Md Salim gave the introductory speech at the event and highlighted the works that the Jyoti Basu Centre of Social science and research (JBCSSR ) will take on in the future. It will take part in the thought leadership process and is about to start its soft version on the web; the infrastructure of the buildings and other things started on Sunday. There will be separate study groups for each of the segments of social science research and allied disciplines, he said.
Left Front Chairman Biman Basu, also the Chairman of (JBCSSR), led the programme commemorating Jyoti Basu's birth anniversary.
Apart from this, blood donation camps, symposiums and lecture series were held across the state. Today, in Raidighi and Mathurapur in the South Parganas district, 248 donors donated blood. Other districts also held blood donation camps, and according to the party's estimates, more than 1000 blood donors participated in the camps. In the morning, before the event started at PDG Bhawan, a blood donation camp was held there and 180 donors donated their blood.
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