An endless stream of mourners filed past the body of former Chief Minister and CPI(M) legend Jyoti Basu draped in the national tri-colour as it lay in state at the West Bengal Assembly this morning.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who flew in here, paid floral tributes to Basu at the Assembly premises. She was accompanied by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury were also present on the occasion.Basu will be given a state funeral with military honours before the mortal remains are donated to the state-owned SSKM Hospital for medical research.
Mourners stood in queues stretching half-a-kilometre with garlands and wreaths to wait their turn for paying homage.
The body of Basu was brought to the Assembly at 10:10 am after briefly halting at CPI(M)'s state party headquarters at Alimuddin Street and at state secretariat, Writers' Buildings, which was his office for 23 years from 1977. The Chief Minister and Chief Secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborty placed wreaths there.
The national tri-colour was draped on the body over the party's red flag with personnel drawn from the Army, Navy and Air Force standing at attention. A large portrait of Basu with folded hands formed the background.
Basu last attended the assembly on February 1, 2001 where he was given a reception by Speaker H A Halim for his over 50 year of dedicated service to the people. The body will be taken on a gun carriage escorted by defence personnel drawn from three services to the state-run SSKM Hospital from the Assembly at 3:00 pm.
En route to the hospital, he would be given a 21-gun salute at Mohur Kunj, a park adjacent to the Victoria Memorial by the Kolkata Police.
95-year-old Basu had died on January 17 of multi-organ failure.