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Tribute and closed eyes

New Delhi, Feb. 22: Jyoti Basu was never a member of Parliament, but the late communist received glowing tributes from Speaker Meira Kumar in the obituary references for former Lok Sabha members who died recently.

Kumar said Basu was an astute administrator and one of the leading figures of the communist and trade union movements in India as she heaped praise on the man who served as chief minister for a record 23 years.

There have been only a few instances when a person who never became a Lok Sabha member has received such praise during formal obituary references on the floor of the House. Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narain are among such leaders.

Kumar said Basu’s administrative acumen and political sagacity had left an indelible imprint on the country’s political canvas. “Even after demitting office of chief minister owing to his frail health, Basu continued to remain actively associated with several projects for the welfare of people. A multifaceted personality, Basu was also an accomplished author. He penned a large number of essays in the Bengali language which have been compiled and published in five volumes,” the Speaker said.

“In his demise, the country has lost a worthy son and a committed votary of the humanitarian values and a legislator par excellence. He rendered a yeoman service for the welfare and uplift of the weak and the downtrodden sections of the society.”

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee and a few members of her Trinamul Congress appeared to be in visible discomfort as the Speaker praised the departed communist.

Mamata closed her eyes and her party colleagues looked askance when Kumar said Basu worked steadfastly for the all-round development of Bengal, introduced land reforms and decentralised power by strengthening the panchayati raj system.

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