Krishna Bose, academic, thinker, social worker and three-time parliamentarian, died on Saturday.
She was 89.
Bose is survived by two sons and a daughter.
She had a remarkable life herself. She was also part of a remarkable family, being married to Sisir Kumar Bose, nephew of Subhas Chandra Bose.
Sisir, a Harvard-trained doctor, drove Netaji from Elgin Road in Calcutta to Gomoh in then Bihar during his great escape from house arrest in 1941.
Krishna Bose was born in Dhaka on December 26, 1930.
She did her MA from Calcutta University and taught English at Sivnath Shastri College, the morning section of South City, for 40 years from 1955. Eight of those years, she was a much-loved principal.
Bose joined politics in the mid-1990s. She became a Lok Sabha MP in 1996 when she won from the Jadavpur constituency on a Congress ticket. Later, she joined Mamata Banerjee and was elected from the same constituency as the Trinamul Congress candidate in 1998 and 1999.
Krishna and Sisir Bose’s wedding on December 9, 1955 Pictures courtesy: The Oracle (Sisir Kumar Bose Centenary Volume by Netaji Research Bureau)
Her elder son Sugata Bose, a professor of history at Harvard University, said “it is fitting that she breathed her last in a hospital that was part of her constituency”.
On February 17, she had suffered a stroke and had been at Medica hospital, off EM Bypass, since.
She passed away at 10.22am on Saturday with her two sons beside her.
Her younger son Sumantra is a professor of international and comparative politics at London School of Economics. Her daughter Sarmila is a journalist and academic based in London.
“She (Bose) sustained a cerebral infarct (stroke)… and remained in critical condition under treatment in critical care unit,” a hospital release said.
Until the last bout of illness, Bose had led a remarkably active life, writing columns and working at Netaji Research Bureau, receiving guests and cocking a snook at her age.
Her Bengali prose had a kind of rare crispness and precision. She could be critical without appearing to be so and never offensive.
“I am deeply saddened by the demise of Krishna Bose, an eminent educationist, writer, social worker and former MP,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in a statement.
Krishna and Sisir Bose with baby Sugata in 1957
Mamata also tweeted: “I lost someone respected, loved and admired by me. Saddened and shocked… Being a part of Netaji’s family, she was a revered social reformer, renowned poet & and a courageous educationist.”
She described Bose as a mother figure to the entire Trinamul “family”. “Krishna di was a mother to her sons Sumantra and Sugata, daughter Sarmila as well as the whole Trinamul family. Her immense contribution to Indian society and Bengali culture will be revered for times to come,” Mamata said.
As the news of her death spread, people from various walks of life assembled first at her home on Sarat Bose Road and then at Netaji Bhavan to pay their last respects.
While her body lay in rest, family and friends sang Rabindrasangeet one after the other. Often, Sugata made his own song requests and joined in the chorus. Many who came for a last see hummed along with them.
Bose herself was no mean a musician. She was a Sangeet Visharad from Bhatkhande Music Institute, Lucknow.
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said he had learnt at lot from Bose and her death was “a sad moment for all of us”. “Not only politics, but also social studies and civilisation, Indian tradition…. I consider myself lucky to have been in association with her,” he said.
Lunch in Vienna, 1959: Anita Bose with Sugata seated on her lap, Krishna Bose, Emilie Schenkl and Sisir Bose
From the hospital, the body was taken to the Boses’ Sarat Bose Road home and from there to Netaji Bhavan on Elgin Road.
Around 5pm, chief minister Mamata Banerjee arrived.
Krishna Bose was the chairperson of Netaji Research Bureau till her death.
Earlier, she had served as chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs for five years between 1999 and 2004. During her tenure as Lok Sabha member she was known in the House for her informative speeches.
She had authored a number of books, including the much-acclaimed An Outsider in Politics, Itihaser Sandhane, Prasanga Subhaschandra, Smriti-Bismriti and Netaji: A Biography for the Young.
The last journey towards the crematorium at Keoratala started at 7.33pm.
Her mortal remains were consigned to flames at Keoratala around 8pm.