Jyoti Basu, one of the biggest stalwarts of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM had the distinction of being the longest serving Chief Minister of any Indian state. He served as West Bengal CM for 23 long years. Jyoti Basu took over as CM of West Bengal on June 21, 1977 and continued in that position till November 6, 2000. In 1996 Jyoti Basu’s name was proposed for the prime minister of United Front government and there was wide consensus on his name among the UF constituents but CPM Politburo vetoed the proposal . A disappointed Jyoti Basu termed Politburo’s decision as a historic blunder.
Today on his birth anniversary Khurpi is publishing an excerpt from the book Memoirs: A political autobiography authored by him and published in 1999.
The Reckless Sangh Parivar
The volcano that was the BJP was spewing venom in the country. To make matters worse, the Rao Government had taken the path of compromise. The second convention of the National Integration Council was held on July 18, 1992 and the BJP did not leave any doubts about its intentions in Ayodhya. The need to be alert should have come about then only. The BJP was getting the help and support of many retired Armymen which was proving to be detrimental to the cause of unity in the defense forces. The big bourgeoisie classes were also with the BJP. The party was gaining some strength from he urban middle class and the government in Uttar Pradesh was preparing for final slowdown. In the mean time, Shankar Dayal Sharma became the new President; we supported his candidature.
On September 10, 1991, our MP, Jainal Abedin, brought the non-official Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Bill which became law. But the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh and the VHP were going ahead with the temple plans. Flouting court orders, the state government issued a notification taking over part of the disputed land to help the VHP build the temple. At the NIC meeting, the BJP talked about status quo but in actuality, it was up to this mischief! I told Narsimha Rao that there was grave dangers ahead; he said that he had not caught on to the BJP lies. Strange, considering that the entire nation had seen through the BJP gameplan by then! He could have even had a look at the CBI report which categorically stated the danger.
What had been predicted at our party congress, was coming true. There was no way that we could dismiss the fact that the communal virus was indeed afflicting some people. The VHP was active as never before. Our Central Committee meeting was held during October 28-31, 1992. The so called “Religious Parliament” was also held in Delhi at the same time from where a call was given to renew work on the temple from December 6. The Central Committee yet again warned that such actions would be destructive.
The Politburo then demanded that an NIC meeting be held to discuss this danger and the Centre was forced to call a session on November 23. The Left Parties met again on December 3 and demanded that the Centre immediately take over the the entire disputed site and take proper security measures. We took a unified stand on this issue and the NIC adopted a consensual resolution which was moved by Surjeet. The resolution vested the Prime Minister to take all possible steps to ensure that the Constitution was not infringed upon and that no law was broken on the Ayodhya issue. Rao should have used this opportunity fully; for the first time in the country, the Prime Minister had been given such powers.
I am still at a loss to understand as to why he kept quiet, not bothering even to issue a line of criticism against the vicious Parivar strategy. There can be no words to describe this inaction; there can be no redemption either. Kar sevaks started gathering in Ayodhya from December 3 but the Rao Government continued to behave like a tin soldier.
A contempt of court case had by the began in the Supreme Court. On November 28, the Court ordered that no work should be started on the disputed site. Materials could not be gathered and stockpiled in the area either. The kar sevaks could only sing kirtans and bhajans as token gesture. Earlier, the state government had promised in a court document that it would not allow any work on the site and the Supreme Court had taken cognizance of this development. The Court also asked the administration to take proper steps. However, the BJP-RSS-VHP, instead going by the law, took this as a challenge….
Rao met the RSS Chief twice on December 1 and December 2. Nobody except the participants, knew why those meetings had been necessiated. But after this, it became apparent that Rao would do nothing but watch the events drift by. The tragedy thus had to happen. On December 6, those barbarians demolished the Babri Masjid. We stood dishonoured in front of the entire world.