Sheikh Hasina, Sonia Gandhi to attend Basu's last journey
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi will be among a host of dignitaries scheduled to arrive in Kolkata on Tuesday to pay their last respects to Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu.india Updated: Jan 18, 2010 20:11 IST
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi will be among a host of dignitaries scheduled to arrive in Kolkata on Tuesday to pay their last respects to Marxist patriarch Jyoti Basu.
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will represent the central government, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) West Bengal state secretary Biman Bose told mediapersons here.
Bose said several other central ministers, including Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy, have also said they would be present when Basu's body is taken out of the funeral parlour, Peace Haven - where it is now embalmed - and handed over to a state-run hospital.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad is reaching the city on Monday to attend Basu's last journey.
Top leaders of other national parties are also scheduled to attend, Bose said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart LK Advani, party president Nitin Gadkari and Janata Dal United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav will fly in to the city on Tuesday afternoon to pay their last respects at the state assembly where Basu's body will be kept for public viewing, BJP sources said.
All members of the CPI-M politburo and several central committee members will attend the last journey of the former West Bengal chief minister.
Asked whether representatives of communist parties from abroad will be present, Bose said: "No names have been confirmed yet".
In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed confirmed Sonia Gandhi would be going to Kolkata on Tuesday.
The Congress chief had written to Jyoti Basu's son Chandan Basu on Sunday to condole the death and had described the Marxist leader as a "tireless crusader against communalism" and a "warrior for social justice".
The Congress president said Basu "did not go gently into the night - he fought bravely until his last breath, just as he did throughout his life. And what a rich, fulfilled and glorious life he had."
Sonia Gandhi also said that Basu had contributed to the formation of the United Progressive Alliance government in 2004. "We continued to count on him for his wise counsel even after he retired from political life," she said, adding that his demise had left millions of his political followers in the country feeling bereft.
There will be no funeral of Basu on Tuesday as he has pledged his body for medical research. The body will be handed over to a government-run hospital Tuesday. His eyes have already been donated.