When Jawaharlal Nehru first met him in 1951 at the then Congress headquarters at 7 Jantar Mantar, “Panditji first asked my name and his second question was, how many languages I spoke”, Ranoj Basu (85) remembers, “but Panditji never called me by name. Indira Gandhi called me 'Basu' and Narsimha Rao-just Ranoj.”
After spending almost three-quarters of his life in the Congress and serving under three generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family (Nehru to Sonia Gandhi), the lone permanent secretary of the All India Congress Committee wants to retire.
“I have requested Oscar Fernandez, Digvijaya Singh and AK Antony to talk to the Congress president and relieve me from my duty. I am told that the decision will be taken in a couple of months,” Basu told HT.
A pension-holder of the party, Basu feels he has nothing more to contribute to it and wants to spend the rest of his life with his daughters.
His marathon innings with the party started as an office assistant to Nehru: "he showed me a table and a chair and asked me to sit in his room. My feet were trembling." During Indira Gandhi's time, Basu was made a zonal representative. Narsimha Rao made him Officer on Special Duty and in 1995, permanent secretary.
After Rajiv Gandhi's death Basu left the party office, but Rao ensured his return. The permanent secretary's job essentially involves managing crucial paper work for important meetings, ensuring compliance with rules among others.
He has asked his daughter to buy a car. But will Sonia Gandhi severe the last living link between Nehru's era and her present organisation?