Advani to attend Basu's funeral in Kolkata

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Kolkata, Jan.16 (ANI): Thousands of people including activists of Communist Party of India (Marxist) turned out in Kolkata city on Sunday (January 17) to pay homage to veteran leader Jyoti Basu, the Communist patriarch. He was 95.

Basu died from multiple organ failure at a city hospital, where he was being treated for 15 days.

Basu's death has caused a major grief across political parties.

Senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani said he would be present during the funeral procession of Basu on Tuesday.

"I asked these people to find out when the funeral will take place, and we came to know that it will be held on Tuesday, that is day after tomorrow. So I will be going for the funeral and it was also decided by the regional wing, that we will defer tomorrow's programme," said Lal Krishna Advani.

A London-trained barrister, Basu debuted in politics as a union leader and later gained legendary status with his five unbroken 5-year terms as chief minister of West Bengal.

Basu retired from active politics a decade ago, but his towering stature retained its unifying influence among the leftist groups and he continued to play what often seemed the role of a crisis manager and political arbitrator.

Basu's party and its allies, despite their long years in power, have often differed over policy issues such as acquiring farmland for industry.

It was his brand of liberal communism that ensured wide acceptability for Basu and he was offered the job of prime minister twice in 1996, but he had to decline because of opposition from within his party.

Basu described that decision as "historic blunder" in an open criticism of a section of his party's dogmatic ideologues.

Born into a middleclass family of a doctor, Basu went to study law in the United Kingdom where he came in touch with the Communist Party of Great Britain.

The short, reticent politician, always seen in a white flowing shift and an Indian wraparound, began his political career as a leader of dock and railway workers in Kolkata.

His staid and sometimes brusque style earned him the sobriquet of "a field marshal in a gentleman's garb". (ANI)

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