West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee paid his last respects to his predecessor and party comrade Jyoti Basu at the state secretariat Writers' Buildings, as thousands of government employees and office-goers gathered to see the mass leader for the last time Tuesday.
Basu, who was chief minister for 23 years since 1977 -- the longest stint in India so far -- stepped down in 2000 due to ill health and passed on the baton to his then deputy Bhattacharjee. Basu died Sunday.
The chief minister, accompanied by his cabinet colleagues, offered floral tributes to Basu by climbing on to the open truck where the Marxist patriarch's body had been placed for better public view when the last journey resumed from the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) headquarters on Alimuddin Street.
Basu's longtime aide Joykrishna Ghosh stood beside his leader's body in the truck, covered with white flowers.
As the cortege made its four-km journey from Alimuddin Street to the secretariat, people peeked from windows and balconies and lined both sides of the route.
CPI-M cadres holding posters saying 'Jyoti Babu lal salaam' formed human chains throughout the route.
Chief secretary Ashok Mohan Chakroborty also paid his last tribute to the veteran leader, who was known for his tight grip over the administration.