When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rushed to Kolkata on Thursday just to pay a 22-minute visit to the hospital where 95-year-old Jyoti Basu is battling for life, the trip spoke volumes about the communist patriarch’s relevance in Indian politics.
India’s longest serving chief minister is on ventilator support but the throngs of teary-eyed followers outside the hospital, the 24×7 mediapersons camping outside and the steady stream of political dignitaries indicate the respect Basu commands across the political spectrum.
The Prime Minister offered to fly in experts from anywhere in India to treat Basu.
A day later, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda also visited the ailing leader in Kolkata.
“I remember what Jyoti Basu has sacrificed. He made me the prime minister of this country,” Gowda told reporters recalling the political stalemate in 1996.