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Life and times of a Marxist icon

Jyoti Basu, who died in Kolkata on Sunday, resigned from active politics in 2000 but continued to guide the communist movement in India.

kolkata Updated: Jan 17, 2010 14:56 IST

July 8, 1914: Born Jyotirindra Basu in Calcutta to N.K. Basu a leading doctor of his time. He was the third of three siblings.;

1920-24: Studied at Loreto Convent, Dharamtala, in Kolkata. It was here that his father shortened his name to Jyoti.

1925-32: Studied at St Xavier’s Collegiate School, Kolkata.

1933-35: Graduated with English (Honours) from Hindu (now Presidency) College.

Jyoti Basu: 1914-2010

1935-40: Qualified as a barrister-at-law from Middle Temple, London. Came under the influence of socialist philosopher Harold Joseph Laski and Communist Party of Great Britain general secretary Rajani Palme Dutt and embraced communism.

1937-40: Became a member of the India League, the Federation of Indian Students in Great Britain and secretary of the London Majlis, all organizations of Indian students in England. Was dissuaded from joining CPGB by Harry Pollitt, then general secretary of the party.

1940: Basu returned to India and joined the Communist Party of India, which was then banned by the British rulers. His shocked parents tried to dissuade him but to no avail. Basu’s first assignment in the CPI was to arrange safe houses for the party’s underground leaders, and he soon became the main link between the leadership and its overground sympathisers. Married Basanti Ghosh.

1942: Basu’s wife died.

1941: Given responsibility by the party of organising railway workers. Appointed secretary of the Bengal-Assam Railway.

1943: Elected provincial committee member (PCO) of CPI, his first official position in the party.

1946: Helped organise Gandhiji’s peace march in Kolkata following widespread communal rioting in the city. Elected to the (undivided) Bengal assembly from the Railway constituency.

1948: Married Kamal Basu

1951: Appointed president of the editorial board of CPI mouthpiece Swadhinata.

1953: Elected to the CPI’s West Bengal state committee for the first time.

1954: Elected to the party’s central committee.

1957-67: Was leader of the opposition in the West Bengal assembly.

1958: Elected to the party’s national council.

1964: Suspended from national council, following disagreements with the party leadership. Split the party along with several other senior members and formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Was one of nine members elected to the new party’s first politburo. Remained a member of the politburo till XXXX.

1967 and 1969: Became deputy chief minister of two successive United Front governments in West Bengal.

1972: Lost the assembly election (the only time he lost one).

1977-2000: Elected chief minister of West Bengal for five consecutive terms November 6, 2000: Resigned as chief minister on health grounds.

1996: Invited by the United Front to become Prime Minister. Denied permission to do so by his party. Basu calls it a “historic blunder”.

2008: Resigned from the politburo on health grounds. Became a permanent invitee to the party’s highest decision-making body.

January 1, 2010: Admitted to AMRI, Kolkata.

January 17, 2010: Died after suffering prolonged illness