Thousands of people tried to break police barricades for a last glimpse of their leader Jyoti Basu, as the flower-bedecked body of the Communist patriarch was brought to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) West Bengal state headquarters in Kolkata on Tuesday.
1914 - 2010
Tearful CPI-M politburo members, including general secretary Prakash Karat and chief ministers of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, carried the body on their shoulders from the hearse and placed it on a makeshift platform, as slogans like 'Jyoti Basu amar rahe' and 'Long Live Jyoti Basu' rent the air.
The grand daughters of the former state chief minister - Koel, Doel and Payel - broke down as they garlanded Basu, who died at a private city nursing home Jan 17 after a long battle for life.
The atmosphere at the 31, Alimuddin Street office was sombre as senior leaders of the CPI-M and other partners of the Left Front looked crestfallen, some of them sobbing, as they filed past the body covered with a red party flag.
The party headquarters, constructed in 1982, was a part of Basu's daily itinerary, till old age and ill health confined him to his Salt Lake home.
Earlier, Basu's last journey started amid shouts of 'Comrade Jyoti Basu lal salaam', when his body was taken out of the funeral parlour 'Peace Haven' - where it had been kept since Sunday and placed in a hearse.
Kolkata police sergeants and three pilot cars were the vanguards of the cortege, with four other sergeants providing side cover to the hearse - fitted with transparent fibre glass for people to have the last glimpse of the mass leader.
Six red flags at half-mast were on the hearse; inside which sat some leaders including Basu's long time aid Joykrishna Ghosh.