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 Jyoti Basu (1914 - 2010)
Jyoti Basu, the octogenarian Chief Minister of West Bengal, is one of the most dynamic leaders the country has seen. The leader of the longest running democratically elected Communist government in the world, he is also the country's longest surviving Chief Minister. He has been at the helm of West Bengal's Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM)-led Left Front government since 1977.
Basu's magnetic appeal stems from his ability to know pulse of the masses and act accordingly. At 83, Basu is still at the centre-stage of Indian politics. He is a member of the party's central committee as well as the politburo.

Basu was born on July 8, 1914 in Calcutta. His father Nishikanta Basu, a medical professional, hailed from Dhaka. He studied at Loreto and St Xavier's in Calcutta. In 1935, he took his Honours in English from the Presidency College, and left for London to study law.

In London, impressed by Harold Lasky's lecture on anti-fascism and influenced by the political activity in the universities there, Basu plunged into politics. He met British Communist Party leaders like Harry Polit, Rajnipalm Dutt and Ben Bradle. Along with them he formed the Communist Group at London. His contemporaries were Rajni Patel, Mohan Kumaramagalam, Renu Chakraborty, Indrajit Gupta, Nikhil Chakraborty and Arun Bose.

After passing the Law degree in 1940, Basu returned to India. However, he never practiced.

He joined the Communist Party of India (CPI) and worked as a full-time party worker at a time when the British had declared it illegal. In 1941, he got married but lost his wife. He married again and has one son.

In 1944, he started his work in the Labour Front of the party and actively organised railwaymen. In 1946, he was elected to the undivided Bengal Legislative Assembly. In 1947, when India became free, he remained a member of the interim legislature (1947-1952) of the newly carved state of West Bengal.

In 1964, Basu along with other party members formed the Communist Party of India (Marxists). He became a Central Committee member as well as politburo member from the inception of the party.

In 1967, Basu became the Deputy Chief Minister of the first non-Congress coalition government in West Bengal. Again in 1969, he was made Deputy Chief Minister. Basu became Chief Minister of the Left Front government in 1977, a position he held continuously for more than 23 years, a record in the country (From June 21, 1977, to November 6, 2000, Basu served as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for the Left Front government).

On 1 January 2010, Basu was admitted to AMRI hospital (Bidhannagar, Kolkata) after he was diagnosed with pneumonia. On 16 January 2010, his health condition became extremely critical and he was suffering from multiple organ failure. Seventeen days after being taken ill, he died on 17 January 2010.
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