Man who defeated Basu pays rich tributes

January 17th, 2010 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Jyoti Basu Kolkata, Jan 17 (IANS) The man who handed out Jyoti Basu his only electoral defeat acknowledged Basu’s greatness Sunday, saying he was “one of the greatest Communist leaders ever born in India”.
Basu, who died here Sunday after a prolonged illness, was defeated in elections only once - in 1972 by Shibapada Bhattacharya, a Communist Party of India (CPI) activist.

Bhattacharya defeated Basu by over 40,000 votes from Baranagar assembly seat in North 24 Parganas. Basu had by then won six consecutive elections from Baranagar (1952-1971).

Bhattacharya told IANS: “He (Jyoti Basu) was one of the greatest Communist leaders ever born in India. He was a master of parliamentary democracy.”

Bhattacharya vividly remembers the moment in 1972 when the results were announced.

He said: “I was always confident of my victory but was also bit nervous as I was up against a man who was considered invincible.”

Basu and Bhattacharya had been comrade-in-arms till the split in the CPI in 1964. Then Basu joined the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Bhattacharya, who had been Basu’s aide during the latter’s election campaigns until 1964, recalled: “Before the split I used to look after his (Basu’s) electioneering. I was moved by his cool temperament and observational skills. During those days, Basu didn’t have the political stature he came to enjoy later.”

After the Left Front took power in West Bengal in 1977, Basu took over as chief minister. The CPI joined the grouping in 1980.

“As chief minister and a senior leader of the ruling left front, Basu visited Baranagar several times to attend public rallies and meetings. Both of us shared dais but we hardly spoke,” said Bhattacharya.

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