"There will be none like Jyoti Basu again." This is how Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Sunday saluted a man he prevented from becoming the prime minister in 1996.
Karat, who influenced the CPI-M to block Basu from taking charge of the United Front government in 1996, said that the former West Bengal chief minister "was a great leader of the CPI-M, the Left movement and India. With his passing away, an era has passed.
"Seventy years of public life and political activity marked him out, at the time of his death, as the most distinguished Left leader of the country. An ardent Communist, he was one of the few political leaders in independent India who actually deepened democracy, strengthened secularism and brought the working people to the centre-stage of Indian politics.
"As chief minister of West Bengal for a record 23 years, his lasting contributions were land reforms, which gave land and security of tenure to millions of peasants, the vitalization of panchayat institutions, and the creation of an enduring atmosphere of secularism in the state.
"He taught Communists how to work and serve the people in parliamentary forums in order to bring about changes in public policy... Basu became a symbol of Left, democratic and secular forces.
"Although he died at the age of 95, he leaves us bereft - because there will be none like Jyoti Basu again."