Kolkata: Thousands of mourners showered petals and garlands as the body of West Bengal minister Subhas Chakraborty, one of the most popular leaders of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), was taken through North 24 Parganas district Tuesday on its last journey.
Transport and Sports Minister Chakraborty, 67, died in a hospital Monday following multi-organ failure after a prolonged battle with cancer.
Considered a go-getter, Chakraborty was known for publicly airing controversial views - many of which were against the official line of the regimented CPI-M - but his huge support base remained intact due to his ability to mix with people from all walks of life and his helpful nature.
From a 92-year-old woman who persuaded her relatives to carry her to Chakraborty`s ancestral residence at Dum Dum Private Road for a final glimpse of her leader to Bollywood actor Mithun Chakraborty, commoners and the famous lined up both sides of the streets on the route of the funeral cortege.
Sportspersons including footballer Sailen Manna, former cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, cultural personalities like singer Usha Uthup, top leaders of the CPI-M and other political parties as well as countless ordinary people - many of who had been helped by Chakraborty during crisis times - paid their last respects.
Monks of the Ramakrishna Mission, who expressed their gratitude for Chakraborty`s support for their projects, garlanded the body. The procession covered wide stretches touching his Salt Lake residence, besides making several unscheduled halts following public demand.
Makeshift platforms came up along the route. Slogans of `Subhas Chakraborty amar rahe` rent the air. There were banners with quotes from Chakraborty`s favourite Tagore poems. The Communist cadres sang `International` and walked behind the flower-bedecked vehicle carrying his body.
A large number of people waited at the sprawling Salt Lake stadium, built at Chakraborty`s initiative despite a fund crunch, where the body reached well past noon.
Later, his body will be consigned to flames at the Keoratala ghat after touching the CPI-M headquarters at Alimuddin Street, the state secretariat Writers` Buildings and the office of the party`s labour arm CITU.
In a condolence message, Finance Minister and state Congress president Pranab Mukherjee described Chakraborty as "an able organiser and an effective administrator".
Former Lok Sabha speaker and expelled CPI-M leader Somnath Chatterjee said: "From the party`s viewpoint it often seemed he was making controversial comments. But I realised later that whatever he said was correct."