New Delhi: Volatile international situation
in 1930s inspired Jyoti Basu, then studying law in England, to
turn a Communist while back in India, he donned several hats
from a trade union leader to an excellent legislator to a
democrat whose voice was respected across the political
Basu did not belong to an active political family though
his father Nishikanta Basu, an eminent homoeopath doctor, was
supportive of the national struggle. While in school, Basu was
inspired by the Chittagong armed rebellion led by Surya Sen in
It was his stay in England that made him a Communist.
In 1935, Basu went to England to study law and the
volatile international situation then shaped his political
thoughts. Basu gradually came into contact with leaders of the
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).
He began to participate in Marxist Study Circles and
joined in the activities of the Communist Groups in London,
Oxford, and Cambridge which later led to his decision to join
the Communist Party in India when he returned from England.
He came in close contact with Harry Pollit, Rajni Palme
Dutt, Ben Bradley and other leaders of CPGB and all these
leaders had a great influencing role on him.
Basu returned to India in 1940 and immediately contacted
the party leaders. Though he enrolled himself as a barrister
in Calcutta High Court, he never practiced simply because he
was determined to become a whole-timer of the party.
Basu became an active trade union leader in 1944. In
that year, Bengal Assam Railroad Workers` Union was formed and
Basu became its first secretary. Basu was elected to Bengal
Provincial Assembly in 1946 from the Railway Workers
During the days of India-China border conflict, Basu,
along with other leaders of the party, were accused of being
"agents of China" and faced attacks from the ruling parties
and the anti-Communist media.
In 1970, he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at
the Patna Railway Station allegedly by the Anandmargis. In
1971, Basu`s car and public meeting were attacked allegedly by
Though CPI(M) became the single largest party in the
Assembly Elections in 1971, the party was refused the chance
to form a ministry and President`s Rule was imposed in Bengal.
In 1972, CPI(M) boycotted the polls and Basu famously
declared the new Assembly as "assembly of the frauds".