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Who after Biswas: problem for CPM

Calcutta, March 26: CPM state secretary Anil Biswas died at 5.25 pm today in a private hospital.

He was 62 and is survived by his wife Gita and daughter Ajanta.

Biswas was admitted to the hospital on March 18 after suffering a cerebral stroke and underwent two brain surgeries. “His death was caused by a massive cerebral haemorrhage with stroke in the brain stem along with renal failure,” doctors who treated Biswas said tonight.

Jyoti Basu, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Left Front chairman Biman Bose were among the hundreds of leaders and CPM activists who visited the hospital on news of the death. Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi also went.

Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee, who arrived around 7.35 pm, said: “Although Biswas was my political adversary, I must admit he was a good human being. I am shocked.” Mamata offered her condolences to Biswas’s widow and daughter.

The body will be kept at the Alimuddin Street party headquarters between 9 am and 4.30 pm for mourners to pay homage. After that, the body will be taken to NRS Medical College and Hospital in a procession and donated as he had wished. Doctors have already collected his eyes.

The politburo said: “In his untimely death, the party and the leadership have suffered a grievous loss.”

Bhattacharjee and Bose will guide the party through the polls, but beyond that the CPM will have to decide on the successor to Biswas, who had been the secretary since 1998.

Bose would have been the obvious choice, given his seniority and the fact that he chairs the Left Front, but has a habit of shooting his mouth off. Known for smooth successions, the CPM this time might have to think out of the box.

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