PM pays homage to Jyoti Basu

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New Delhi/ Kolkata, Jan 18 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh visited the CPM headquarters in Delhi on Monday to pay his condolences to veteran Communist patriarch Jyoti Basu, who breathed his last at the AMRI Hospital in Kolkata on Sunday.

In his condolence message, Dr Singh wrote, "In the sad demise of Shri Jyoti Basu, our country has lost a great son who was a great statesman and a great patriot. I convey my deepest condolences to the members of the bereaved family and to the countless admirers, comrades and followers of Shri Basu."

Meanwhile, the West Bengal Government has declared a two-day State mourning and a paid state holiday on Monday in all government offices.

The national flag would fly at half-mast atop all government offices and establishments.

A state funeral will be held on Tuesday. Leaders from across the world are likely to arrive in Kolkata to pay homage to Basu.

Representatives of Communist parties in China, Cuba and Venezuela including other leaders like Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will attend the funeral.

Earlier on Sunday, 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 Basu, who was 95 at the time of his death.

Basu died from multiple organ failure at the AMRI Hospital, where he was being treated for 15 days.asu's death has caused a major grief across political parties.

Senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani said he would be present at Basu's funeral on Tuesday.

Basu's body would be taken from funeral parlour 'Peace Havan' on Tuesday morning to the State secretariat, assembly and the party headquarters, before its final journey to the SSKM hospital.

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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