Describing Jyoti Basu as a "charismatic" political leader and a "towering personality", Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday recalled his contribution in formation of the first Left-supported UPA government in 2004.
Speaking about his "close intimacy" with the veteran CPI-M leader, who died in Kolkata this morning, Mukherjee said, "I knew him personally for more than five decades.
"He was a towering personality and perhaps in contemporary politics, there was no other personality as much charismatic as he was," he told reporters at his residence in New Delhi.
The Finance Minister also recalled the contribution of Basu in formation of the first UPA government supported by Left in 2004. "In fact, he was an architect of the first UPA government in 2004, which was supported by the Left parties from outside," the Congress leader from West Bengal said.
Recalling that he had developed close intimacy with Basu from the sixties itself when the latter had become the Deputy Chief Minister in the first United Front government in West Bengal assembly, Mukherjee said, "in his death I lost a great well-wisher of myself."
He said the country has lost "an able administrator, an outstanding legislator, a charismatic political leader and a true patriot" in Basu's death.
He said Basu represented people of West Bengal for almost half a decade and served as Chief Minister from 1977 to 2000.
"Perhaps he is the longest serving Chief Minister in the contemporary period. He led the Left movement in this country for a long period of time," Mukherjee said.