Jyoti Basu leads even after death, in his own state of West Bengal and across the border in Bangladesh. After the media played up donation of his body for medical research, there has been a surge of enquiries by people interested in donating bodies.
Since the death of the 95-year -old Communist leader on January 17, Gana Darpan - the only NGO in eastern India campaigning for body donation since 1977 - has been flooded with phone calls from eager donors.
"We have had around 600 enquiries in nine days since Basu passed away," Gana Darpan secretary Manish Sarkar told Hindustan Times on Wednesday.
Usually the NGO gets around 1,000 enquiries a month.
The eagerness in Kolkata, Basu's own city, has been matched by enthusiasm in Bangladesh, the land of his birth.
Gana Darpan General Secretary Brojo Roy is camping in Dhaka and addressing seminars about body donation among the scientific and medical community of Bangladesh.
"Roy has been invited by the Mayor of Dhaka. We send copies of our monthly newsletter to NGOs and academics in Bangladesh. But this time the interest is unprecedented," said Sarkar.
Bangladesh doesn't yet have a forum for body donation.
In West Bengal, the prospective donors are from all walks of life, from affluent businessmen and well-known faces to the man on the street.
Since 1986, while more than 700,000 people have pledged their bodies in Bengal only around 1,400, or 0.2 per cent, have translated into actual donations. "Reluctant survivors usually don't hand over bodies," said Gana Darpan functionaries.
As a matter of policy, however, Gana Darpan doesn't divulge details of those who pledged their bodies or expressed interest in the last few days.
HT had earlier reported most communist leaders such as Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and CPI(M) Bengal secretary Biman Bose have pledged their bodies.
Enquiries Gana Darpan gets on average: 33.33/day
Enquiries since Jan 17: 66.66/day
Enquiries that translate to pledges: 80 per cent
Pledges that materialize into donations: 0.2 per cent