Kolkata streams out as nation bids farewell to Basu
If Kolkata seemed to show little grief for its most famous resident Jyoti Basu on Sunday when his body was taken to a mortuary from the hospital he died in, the city witnessed an outpouring of emotion on Tuesday. Tanmay Chatterjee reports.kolkata Updated: Jan 20, 2010 00:23 IST
If Kolkata seemed to show little grief for its most famous resident Jyoti Basu on Sunday when his body was taken to a mortuary from the hospital he died in, the city witnessed an outpouring of emotion on Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of people thronged different spots in the city for a last glimpse of the state’s longest serving chief minister and Marxist icon.
The departed leader’s last journey began from Alimuddin Street, the CPI-M headquarters, and moved towards the seat of the state administration,
Writers’ Buildings, where the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Chief Secretary A.M. Chakrabarty paid floral tributes.
The next stop was the assembly, where the body was kept draped in the national tricolour for about four hours for public viewing. At the Mohar Kunja flower garden 3 km from Writers’ Buildings, Basu was given a 21-gun salute — usually reserved for heads of state — by police before the body was handed over to the SSKM Hospital authorities. Basu had pledged his body for medical research.
VIPs and ordinary citizens gathered at the assembly to pay their last respects. They included Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed and India’s top political leaders.
In a message in the condolence book, Sonia Gandhi described Basu as “a leader of vision and conviction, idealism and accomplishment, high values and practical realism who served his people, his country and his party with total dedication and absolute selflessness.”
“I never saw him. But he always remained a source of inspiration,” said 30-year-old Biswajit Dey, who lost his vision as an infant.
“Woh dharma nahin mante the to kya hua? Woh logon ko mantethe (So what if he was an atheist? He believed in people),” said Swami Devanand.
“There will not be another like him. I worshipped him all my life,” said CPI-M worker Kartick Chandra Raha (87).