Inanities in paying tribute
January 18, 2010 Leave a comment
The ailing former West Bengal CM Jyoti Basu died yesterday. May the Almighty rest his soul in peace.
Yesterday political leaders across the political spectrum cutting across party lines paid “rich tributes” (the classic cliché) to the departed leader.
Despite the somber mood, I couldn’t fully appreciate the tributes paid to Jyoti Basu. The tributes were either irritatingly sycophantic or inexplicably off the mark. There is no denying that Jyoti Basu in his time was a tall leader, a respected leader and represented the face of the Communist movement (despite the ET article by Brij Mohan Khaitan who claims that Jyoti Basu only put on a “facade of a communist”) for over 6 decades.
But I find it extremely prosaic to claim that he is leaving behind a “void” that cannot be filled. Excuse me !
I accept the need to eulogize a departed leader but I am firm in my view that it should be based on “actual contributions” however little or insignificant they may be. And in the spirit of not criticizing someone who cannot defend himself, we may avoid glossing over his failures while expressing grief. But to claim glorious achievements while actually there is nothing worth or irreplaceability is an extreme form of insipidity.
Let us get real here.
Jyoti Basu demitted office in 2000 citing his ill health. Since then he had been reduced to a father – figure in the communist bloc and played very little role in the affairs of Bengal. Nationally he was almost irrelevant not only because he was a communist but also because of his failing health.
In the last few years, given the fact that he quit office when he was pushing 86, his mental faculties in my view would have substantially receded or at least not kept pace with the developments. Given this condition to claim that he is leaving behind a “void” is offering meaningless platitudes.
Political leaders were vying with each other in praising Jyoti Basu for his “contributions to the state”. In reality he left behind a legacy of poor industrialization, trade unionism and a trail of corruption not to mention the incorrigibly violent CPM cadre. Of course, we need not dwell upon this not when he cannot defend himself.
My point however is to not put someone on a lofty pedestal “merely because” the person has gone to meet his maker (if there is one). Mouthing sycophantic inanities in the garb of paying tribute should end.
Let us evaluate each person, whether dead or alive, for what they are worth.