Among the present chief Ministers in
the different regions of India, Jyoti
Basu happens to be holding the reins
of power in a region for the longest
period at a stretch. He is unparalleled
in many ways. His life history
indicates how being committed to
destroy a system one can still become
an upholder of that system. Right now
Jyoti Basu has become the 'great
mediator' of our national politics.
However, the purpose of this book is
not to indulge in unalloyed adulation
or biased panegyrics born out of an
overwhelming infatuation but to
present in a highly readable and
thought-provoking manner a balanced
and level-headed, impartial and
thoroughgoing evaluation of his
regime for the last 14 years,
highlighting both the positive and
negative contours of this long period
with the help of a massive amount of
carefully collected data: historical,
economic, political and statistical.
In various chapters the author has
wielded his pen almost like a sword
and made a shrewd and sardonic,
insightful and intriguing and also
perhaps a heretical and iconoclastic
analysis of the jig-saw puzzle which
is known as leftist politics in West
Bengal or for that matter, India, at
the present moment.
Surajit Kumar Dasgupta (b. 1938),
son of a swashbucking airlines
officer who in the first phase of his
life had a colourful career in the
Norwegian Navy during the second
world war days, was initially a
Scholarship-winning student of
Science, he Ultimately passed his B.A.
(Hons.) in Economics & Political
Science from Calcutta's Presidency
College and later took an M.A. degree
in Political Science from Calcutta
University. In his college days in the
fifties he was widely reputed as an
romantic poet of West Bengal
whose surrealistic love-poems
attracted the admiring notice of the
intelligentsia. For more than 20 years
he had been connected in different
capacities with Hindusthan Standard,
Free Press Journal, Industrial Times,
and Amrita Bazar Petrike.
The complex and convoluted mosaic of Indian politics has
always befuddled both the native and foreign observers. This
comment applies with equal force to West Bengal's regional
politics as well. Experience indicates that every politican in all
the ages and all the countries of the world must be prepared
to receive not only bouquets but also brickbats.
Among the present Chief Ministers in the different regions
of India, Jyoti Basu happens to be holding the reins of power
in a region for the longest period at a stretch. Since 1977 till
now many great upheavals have taken place in our national
politics as a result of which all the other regions have been
influenced in varying degrees. The only exception seems to be
West Bengal and its Chief Minister Jyoti Basu. Jyoti Basu is
reputed not simply because he had been continuing for fourteen years at a stretch but because he had been operating in
the arena of parliamentary politics for half a century despite
being a communist leader. He is unparalleled in many ways.
His life history indicates how being committed to destroy a
system one can still become an upholder of that system.
Looked at from this point of view he has succeeded in bringing about a synthesis between two contrary roles.
Jyoti Basu has a special image not only in the eyes of the
Government of this country but the foreign Governments also
look upon him as slightly different from other communists.
There is little doubt that he has all along received a status
which is not usually available to the other communist leaders
both at home and abroad. All the parties like Congress, Janata
Dal and BJP kept their doors open for Jyoti Basu and it was
difficult to find out a more competent person for high-level
confidential discussions. Right now Jyoti Basu has become the
great mediator of our national politics.
However, the purpose of this book is not to indulge in
unalloyed adulation or biased panegyrics born out of over-
whelming infatuation but to present a balanced evaluation of
his regime for the last 14 years, highlighting both the positive
and negative contours of this long period with the help of a
massive amount of carefully collected motley data, historical,
economic, political and statistical.
My gratitude to my wife Gayatri and two sisters Sunanda
and Sumitra are unbounded because without their active and
unstinted co-operation and unfailing encouragement and inspiration at every step, this book could never have been
written at all. Thanks are also due to my publisher Gian
Publishing House but for whose kind-hearted invitation I
could never think of undertaking this difficult and painstaking
study involving such a controversial political figure as Jyoti
Jyoti Basu was born on 8th July in the year 1914 in Calcutta. His father, Doctor Nishikanta Basu was a homoeopatbic
physician and his mother's name was Hemlata Devi. Nishikanta was a close friend of Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy as well as
Nalini Ranjan Sarkar. It was Nalini Ranjan who appointed
Nishikanta in the position of a Medical Officer in the Hindusthan Insurance Company.
The Basus originally hailed from the village Barodi which
is included in the Dacca District. But from the very beginning
Nishikanta Basu and his family had been residents of Calcutta.
In 1924, Nishikanta purchased a plot of land in Hindusthan
Park and erected a mansion. Formerly, they used to stay in
rented premises in different areas of Calcutta. The building at
Hindusthan Park is now the residence of Jyoti Basu and his
Nishikanta was the father of two sons and one daughter.
The names of the two sons are Sourindrakiran and Jyotikiran.
It is this Jyotikiron who is presently known as Jyoti Basu.
Nishikanta's daughter's name was Sudha under whose affectionate care, Jyoti Basu grew up. Sudha Devi was married to
Doctor Snehamoy Datta who was the Principal of Calcutta's
Presidency College. Their son Amal Datta is a Bar-at-Law, and
an erstwhile CPI(M) member in the 9th Lok Sabha.
Jyoti Basu took his education first of all in the Loreto
school at Dharmatala from where he went to St. Xavier's
school. He passed his Senior Cambridge from that institution
and got admitted into Presidency College. After graduating
from that college with Honours in English he went to England
in 1935 for higher education. At first he was much interested
in passing the ICS and in 1936 he did appear in that examination, but as ill luck would have it, he was unsuccessful.
Subsequently at the age of 21 he got himself enrolled in Middle Temple and ultimately became a barrister.
Jyoti Basu returned to India in 1939. At this time his father
arranged his marriage with a damsel named Chhabi who
happened to be the grand daughter of Ishan Chandra Ghosh.
But this conjugal life was of a very short duration because
with the conclusion of the year 1942 Chhabi breathed her last.
Even the legendary physician Bidhan Chandra Roy who was
in charge of her treatment could not save her from the jaws
of death. From an account of Snehangshu Acharya, it is known
that at her death Jyoti Basu caught hold of her hand and wept
It was in 1948 that Jyoti Basu married for the second time.
The name of his second wife is Kamal Basu. The first child
begotten by them was a daughter who however expired nine
days after her birth. Thereafter the son Chandan was born in
the month of September in the year 1952. Chandan is now the
father of three daughters. But he has no connection with the
world of politics. He is a business man whose biscuit factory
is situated at Durgapur.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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