The grand old man of Bengal has once again expressed his wish to call it a day. But his party is just not ready to let comrade Jyoti Basu go.
After being the longest-serving chief minister in the country, leading Bengal from June 21, 1977 to November 6, Basu has been wanting to step down from the CPM politburo as well owing to failing health. "I have been telling them (the party top brass) that I do not wish to continue in the politburo due to age and ill health and want to resign," he said.
But the CPM clarified on Monday that Basu cannot have his wish.
"The party is not in a position to release him. He guides us regularly," state secretary Biman Bose said ahead of their two-day politburo meeting here.
That Basu, in his nineties, is eager to call it a day is no secret. As Bose admitted, Basu had wanted to step down from the politburo at the party congress in Delhi last year itself.
Basu has been suffering from various ailments including an irritable bowel syndrome. Recently he told party general secretary Prakash Karat that he would work for the party but wanted to be relieved from the politburo. Karat's reply was categorical: both Basu and HS Surjeet would have to continue for life. Basu is expected to raise the matter in the meeting on Tuesday.
Bose also said the two-day meting would not discuss new inductions in the politburo. A section of the media had been speculating that central committee member Benoy Konar or industries minister Nirupam Sen might fill the post left vacant by the demise of Anil Biswas.
The meeting is expected to back Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's policy of acquiring agricultural land for industries and infrastructure, party insiders said.
The politburo will also discuss measures to counter controversy over the issue, particularly after the Opposition's threat to not allow Tata Motors set up its small-car manufacturing unit at Singur. The state government as well as the CPM is still undecided as to how to tackle the situation.