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Jyoti Basu: one birthday, many celebrations

Left Front legislators paid tribute to the former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu outside the West Bengal Assembly on Sunday after being denied entry to celebrate his 99th birthday in the House. The state’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee paid respect to the Marxist patriarch on Friday in the Assembly, an occasion largely boycotted by the Left.

The former legislators, including Hashim Abdul Halim, who was the speaker for 29 years from 1982 to 2011, paid floral tribute to Basu on the road outside the Assembly gate. Trouble began soon after the Left MLAs accompanied by former ministers and legislators assembled at the state Assembly gates to attend the programme. Assembly marshal Debabrata Majumdar told them that only present members could go in.

‘Today is Basu’s birthday, but his colleagues, some of whom have worked in the assembly with him for decades, were not allowed to go in,’ said Surya Kanta Mishra, leader of the Opposition in the state assembly.

The Left members had boycotted Friday’s official programme in the Assembly saying it was an insult to Basu that his birthday was held on another day only to suit Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s convenience.

In response Mamata Banerjee accused Left legislators of politicking over Basu’s birthday. ‘They have indulged in politics. Those who have done politics with Basu, let God forgive them,’ Banerjee said while paying tribute to the late CPI[M] patriarch. Banerjee who along with Speaker Biman Banerjee were among those who offered flowers at Basu’s portrait, said that the Left Front members had shown discourtesy to a great leader belonging to the CPI[M]. Interestingly, one recalls that Banerjee used to attend Basu’s birthday during his last years at Indira Bhavan.
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