Bitter rivals who made their peace | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Bitter rivals who made their peace

Through a large part of Jyoti Basu’s tenure as chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, who on Sunday described the departed leader as the “first and last chapter of the Left Front government”, remained his bête noire.

kolkata Updated: Jan 18, 2010 01:11 IST
Arindam Sarkar

Through a large part of Jyoti Basu’s tenure as chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, who on Sunday described the departed leader as the “first and last chapter of the Left Front government”, remained his bête noire.

But in recent years the Marxist leader and the Trinamool Congress chief had warmed up to each other.

Basu invited Banerjee twice to find a solution to the land disputes in Singur and Nandigram. And she obliged on both occasions.

But the past was often bitter.

In 1990, Banerjee was beaten up in Kolkata while leading a demonstration. Two years later, the police, under Basu’s administration, carried her out of Writers’ Buildings when Banerjee, then Union minister of state in the Congress government, sat on dharna in front of the chief minister’s chamber.

In 1993, a rally led by her in East Esplanade in central Kolkata turned bloody when protesters clashed with the police.

Five years later, Banerjee drew first political blood when the newly-formed Trinamool Congress won eight Lok Sabha seats. As Banerjee consolidated her position, the CPI-M — fearing that the anti-incumbency factor would work against the Left in West Bengal — asked Basu to step aside and replaced him with his deputy, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Banerjee then described Basu’s retirement as the end of an era.

On Sunday, she called him a “tall political figure” of the country. “We are all deeply shocked at his death,” she said. “Towards the end, a deep bond had developed between us.”

(With agency inputs)