» Election » For the first time, Basu may not vote

For the first time, Basu may not vote

By Indrani Roy Mitra in Kolkata
Last updated on: May 11, 2009 19:48 IST
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Just when Bengal's red bastion seemed rattled by the so-called winds of political change came the news that Jyoti Basu may not cast his vote for the first time since 1952.

According to Left Front insiders, the summer heat has taken its toll on the Communist Party of India-Marxist veteran, who is 94 years old. His doctors have advised him to stay away from the polling booth on May 13.

Therefore, when political parties cross swords in the state he ruled for over 20 years on Wednesday, Basu will spend a quiet day at his Indira Bhavan home in Salt Lake, Kolkata.

Left Front insiders assert that the decision has nothing to do with politics.

Basu still has a significant role in the Left Front and its leaders often consult him on crucial issues.

Meanwhile, at a press conference in Kolkata on Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the Left parties do not consider the Congress party an "untouchable," but are trying to form a Third Front government at the Centre and may join such a regime if they can play a meaningful role in it.

The chief minister was at his diplomatic best when asked if his party would support the Congress-led government. "It is too early to comment who is going to support whom. At the moment we are trying to form a government without the Congress and BJP," he replied.

To a question whether he agreed with Basu's assertion that the party's rejection of the offer of prime ministership to the then Bengal chief minister in May 1996 was a 'Himalayan blunder', Bhattacharjee said, "He is too big a leader for me to comment."

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Indrani Roy Mitra in Kolkata