Amid showers of rose petals in the afternoon and shouts of lal salam in the evening, Basu bowed out in an outpouring of admiration not known in Communist custom.
Bengal was given a new chief minister after nearly 24 years when Governor Viren J. Shah administered the oath of office and secrecy to Bhattacharya at Raj Bhavan today.
“I will follow in the footsteps of Jyoti Basu,” Bhattacharya, who became Bengal’s seventh chief minister, said immediately after.
At 4.34 pm, from the country’s longest-serving chief minister, Basu became simply the MLA from Satgachhia, watching from close distance his apprentice and 31 years his junior, Bhattacharya, fumble once before saying the oath and taking over the reins half-a-year before the state goes into elections.
“Writers’ Buildings will not be the same from tomorrow,” said transport minister Subhas Chakraborty. The nameplate on the chief minister’s office hadn’t been removed till late evening, though.
The entire Cabinet was sworn in, except for the cooperation minister Bhakti Bhusan Mondal who is ill. The swearing-in ceremony lasted 15 minutes, with only Bhattacharya saying the full oath and the others in chorus. Bhattacharya became the first chief minister to take oath in Bengali and rounded the day off with lines from uncle Sukanta’s poem.
The Opposition — Trinamul Congress, Congress and BJP — boycotted the swearing-in.
The Banquet Hall of Raj Bhavan was illuminated by half-a-dozen huge chandeliers shining on a gathering where actors, film directors, singers, authors, academics and sportsmen rubbed shoulders with politicians and bureaucrats. Rabindrasangeet singer Suchitra Mitra and cricket captain Sourav Ganguly were unlikely neighbours in a crowd that was obviously handpicked by Bhattacharya with his known cultural inclinations.
Basu arrived a little before 4.30 pm with granddaughter Doel. At the instance of the Governor, 87-year-old Basu was invited to sit on the dais. Perhaps it was stage fright that got to Bhattacharya when he fumbled once Shah gave him the cue after reading the first word — aami (I) — from the oath-script and stopped.
“It is a new and serious responsibility. I will try my best to reach out to the people of West Bengal,” 56-year-old Bhattacharya said. A relaxed Basu sat with the Governor and Bhattacharya sipping tea after the swearing-in.
“I have been in parliamentary politics for 60 years and was chief minister for 23 years. I am grateful to the people for this,” Basu said. Shah butted in: “He (Basu) continues to be there (may be not as a chief minister).”
Later, at a felicitation programme at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Basu asked partymen to reach out to the people.
“Don’t be complacent. Instead, go to the people to share their sorrows and miseries. And that can only help us come back to power,” Basu told the crowd that spilled out of the stadium.
Basu said he would concentrate on strengthening the CPM and the Left Front. “Although I have stepped down, I will continue as politburo member and will help build up a third front,” he said.
Overwhelmed by the reception, Basu said: “During my long stint as chief minister, I always tried my best to serve the people, keeping aside personal gains.”
Ending his 40-minute speech, Basu quoted Russian poet Mayakovsky to assert that he would continue to work for the “liberation of mankind” till his death. He turned to Bhattacharya and told the crowd: “Buddha knows literature well, he will translate the poem for you.” Basu stopped after quoting a few words, not giving Bhattacharya much to translate.
But he swore in his speech later: “Basu’s vision will guide my path”.
Although the US has 148 million registered voters, the turnout is expected to be a record low. Only 49 per cent of voters cast their ballot in 1996.
The figure would have made the election null and void in many new democracies in Europe and Central Asia where the minimum polling requirement is 50 per cent of the electorate.
In addition to choosing a President, the Americans will be voting for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one third of the 100 seats in the Senate.
The Democrats are making a determined bid to end Republican control of both Houses, but polls suggest they may fall short of this objective. The Democrats must wrest seven seats from the Republicans to regain control of the House of Representatives.
They must unseat five Republicans to secure a majority in the Senate. In addition, there are elections taking place for state legislatures, county and city councillors, district attorneys and even for the board of local educational institutions. As a matter of convenience, all these polls have been bunched together on Tuesday so that reluctant practitioners of democracy can be galvanised into making their choice.
Moreover, Americans who take the trouble of venturing out to the polling booths will be asked to exercise their opinion on a host of “local initiatives”, a referendum of sorts on issues ranging from treatment of drug addicts to the way public libraries are funded.
In Baltimore, near the capital, voters are being asked for additional funding for an aquarium, while in Maryland state, there will be a referendum on awarding of government contracts.
In San Francisco, a local initiative seeks to limit the growth of high-tech businesses in the ci- ty.
As a result, ballot papers in some states are about the size of diaries, manifold in size than the biggest of ballots in India with scores of Lok Sabha candida- tes.
Many of those who choose a President, Senator or Congressman simply don’t bother to vote on these local issues.
As Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore wound up their campaign on election eve, a national tracking poll conducted for Reuters/MSNBC gave Bush a 47 per cent chance and Gore a close 46 per cent.
Neither candidate has caught the imagination of the electorate the way Clinton — or Ronald Reagan earlier — have been able to sway the voters.
Dolly Parton, the singer who is famous for many attributes other than political insight, put it succinctly on a TV show: “It’s between a red-neck and a stiff neck.”
But if Gore loses the election, it will be because Green party candidate Ralph Nader, the father of America’s consumer movement, is likely to get five per cent of the votes, which might otherwise have gone for Democrats. Two other candidates, Reform Party’s Pat Buchanan and Libertarian party’s Harry Browne polled one per cent each.
In the 538-member electoral college, which will formally elect a President on December 18, both Bush and Gore have about 200 electors, judging by the latest trends in opinion polls.
The last-minute campaigning by both candidates has been aimed at securing the remaining 138 crucial electoral votes.
Polls also showed that Bush has a lead of 19 points among male voters, while Gore led by 12 points among women.
— Ajay Jadeja on Saturday, denying the allegations in the CBI report.
Investigations by The Telegraph show that Jadeja was not in Guwahati on November 12, 1999, two days before the one-day match against New Zealand. He was in Delhi and joined the team at Guwahati’s Hotel Brahmaputra on November 13. His mobile phone list proves as much.
The Telegraph has in its possession details relating to calls made from Uttamchand’s number to that of Jadeja. The player did receive Uttamchand’s calls, but in Delhi.
The Guwahati tie was held on November 14. On November 12, the team boarded Indian Airlines Flight IC 879 from Delhi, which landed in Guwahati around 12 noon, and checked into Hotel Brahmaputra. But Jadeja stayed back in Delhi.
Hotel records with The Telegraph reveal that Jadeja, who was allotted Room 507 along with G. Pandey, checked in on November 13. Hotel records of November 12 show the room was “vacant”.
The Telegraph left a message on Jadeja’s cellphone for his version of the events, but there was no response from him till 9 pm today. An enquiry at his residence phone number revealed that not just Jadeja, his entire family would not be available for the next 48 hours because of a wedding. At his brother’s office, an employee said “bade bhaiyya parson wapas ayenge”.
Uttamchand’s cellphone (98400 37700) details show that on November 12, 1999, he made 26 calls to Jadeja’s mobile (98100 34882). On November 13, a day before the Guwahati game, the bookie made 48 calls. On the same day, Jadeja made one call at 9.24 am and it lasted 1 minute and 29 seconds. At 9.27 am, he called Uttamchand for 86 seconds and he was at the time in Mahipalpur area, which is on the way to Delhi airport.
At 9.42, Jadeja made his last call for the day when he was somewhere near the international airport.
On November 15, the team returned to Delhi for the last match at Feroz Shah Kotla on November 17.
Jadeja’s mobile was activated the same day and at 4.51 pm, he made a call from the Airports Authority of India area in Delhi.
On November 16, Uttamchand made 55 calls to Jadeja’s cellphone. The player called up the bookie at 6.16 pm for 2 minutes and 46 seconds. At 10.55 pm, Uttamchand rang up Jadeja and the conversation lasted 2 minutes and 9 seconds.
On match-day, Uttamchand called up Jadeja 31 times. The cricketer did not play the Delhi game, but was in the dressing room.
Three days before the first one-dayer at Rajkot on November 5, Uttamchand made 12 calls to Jadeja. One call, made at 7.49 pm, lasted 3 minutes and 4 seconds. Another call the same day, made at 8.55 pm, was for 54 seconds.
On November 7, a day before the Hyderabad one-dayer, Uttamchand made 70 calls to Jadeja. On the day of the match, the bookie made 33 calls.
On November 9 and 10, the two days preceding the Gwalior tie, Uttamchand called up Jadeja’s mobile 55 and 78 times respectively. On match-day, 19 calls were made.
Jadeja has described Uttamchand as a “fan” and “well-wisher” and denied any underhand links.
The three-Test series with New Zealand throws more light on their relations. The bulk of the calls made to Jadeja were on the eve of every match. For instance, on October 28, a day before the Ahmedabad Test in which India did not enforce the follow-on, Uttamchand made 24 calls to Jadeja’s cellphone. Two of them lasted 1 minute and 34 seconds and 1 minute and 46 seconds.
On the day of the match, 13 calls were made by the punter. One of them, made at 8.07 pm, was for 1 minute and 51 seconds. On October 30, the second day, Uttamchand called up Jadeja 62 times and one call, made as late as 11.50 pm, was for 2 minutes 3 seconds.
On the third day, Uttamchand called up Jadeja 30 times. One call was at 10.09 pm (lasting 1 minute and 59 seconds) and the other at 10.11 pm (lasting 58 seconds). On November 1, the crucial fourth day when India decided against the follow-on, Uttamchand made 50 calls to Jadeja. At 10 pm, they spoke to each other for 4 minutes and 45 seconds. On the last day of the match, Uttamchand made 14 calls to Jadeja. One call, made at 7.49 pm, was for 3 minutes and 4 seconds.
Partly cloudy sky. Minimum temperature likely to be around 21°C