Home India Politics Basu preferred rallies to closed door meetings

Basu preferred rallies to closed door meetings


Kolkata : A leader of the masses, Jyoti Basu preferred rallies and street corner meetings to closed door discussions, says his former election agent Gokul Bairagi.

The veteran Marxist switched to the remote Satgachia assembly constituency in South 24 Parganas district in 1977, five years after suffering the only electoral loss of his long political career from Baranagar seat in North 24 Parganas district. Basu became the state chief minister in the same year and in 1982 Bairagi was named his election agent.

“I found that he really loved addressing people in open fora. He relished speaking before hundreds of people at rallies. He also liked to hold street corner meetings on various issues of public importance.

“Due to electoral compulsions, he had to attend small closed door group meetings, but one could feel where his heart lay,” said Bairagi, who continued as Basu’s election agent during the three polls in 1987, 1991 and 1996. Basu stepped down as chief minister in November 2000 due to health reasons.

“Jyoti babu was a fabulous person both as human being and a politician. He never lost his cool irrespective of the situation,” Bairagi told IANS over phone.

He recalled an incident to buttress his point. “During the first phase of counting in 1987 assembly elections in West Bengal he was trailing. I was accompanied by local party leaders and informed Basu about our anxiety. He just told us not to worry as everything will be fine.

“We were amazed at his cool temperament. When the final results were declared we found that he had won by a substantial margin. Later when I met him he told me: ‘I told you not to worry. See I have won’,” said Bairagi.

Bairagi also underscored that Satgachia was denied access to basic needs such as water, electricity and roads when Basu entered the fray from there. “It was during his tenure as MLA and chief minister that Satgachia got an arsenic-free water plant, remote villages of Satgachia got electricity.”

But Jyoti Basu was a person who never claimed credit. “He was a reticent person, but had an unmatched power of observation,” added Bairagi.