Pall of gloom in sea of red
18 January 2010
Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, 18 JAN: Ignoring the cold, ardent followers of former chief minister Jyoti Basu today gathered in huge numbers in front of Peace Haven, the funeral parlour where Basu's body is being kept. From here, his body will be first taken to Writers’ Buildings tomorrow for his last journey.
Party flags flying half mast dotted the scene whereas a red cloth with “Jyoti Basu amar rahe" (Long live Jyoti Basu) written on it flung near the main gate of Peace Haven. Thousands lined up along the route to Peace Haven to catch a last glimpse of their leader.
Across the state silent mourning processions were taken out today with placards reading “Jyoti Basu Amar Rahe”. People also shouted slogans like “Jyoti Basu, lal selam, Jyoti Basu, lal selam (Red Salute)."
A stream of mourners lined up at the place to offer their tributes to the departed leader. “I will stay here the whole day. I have attended so many of his huge rallies. Listening to his speeches was always an inspiration,” said Mr Jaideep Majumdar of Jadavpur, his voice choked with emotion.
A middle-aged follower was seen beating his chest as he joined in the crowd to mourn the loss of one of the most famous and respected leaders. “He was the greatest. My leader is no more,” he cried.
Former Team India captain Sourav Ganguly also said he would always remember Jyoti Basu for congratulating him on the two centuries he scored during his debut Test series against England in 1996 and for attending his wedding.
“Life comes to an end in death and that is natural, everybody has to bow to death. There is no third umpire here. We have lost a legend,” Ganguly said. “I will always remember him for two things. He had come to my wedding and congratulated Dona and I and also congratulated me after my debut Test series against England where I scored two centuries,” he said. “I was felicitated by the government of West Bengal and he had handed me a trophy. It still adorns my cupboard,” Ganguly said. Basu and Ganguly shared the same date of birth and both had studied at St Xavier’s.