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Jan 17, 2010 at 10:43pm IST

Jyoti Basu was my role model, says Yechuri

Veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu died in a Kolkata hospital on Sunday. He was 95.

CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechuri spoke to CNN-IBN and shared his experiences with Jyoti Basu, who he called his role model.

Sitaram Yechuri: He was a very fine man. He was very considerate about his fellow comrades. I remember how on many occassions when we used to be flying abroad he would walk from his first class to my toilet class to inquire if everything was all right.

CNN-IBN: In 1996, when he did not become the PM, he described it as a historical blunder, do you believe that it was in the true sense a historical blunder and that he would have made a great prime minister?

Sitaram Yechuri: This is one issue which has been much debated. At that time, Jyoti Basu had his opinion and then there was the party's opinion. There were discussions but then it was ultimately realised that Jyoti Basu's opinion was in the minority and he accepted the party's opinion. This was one great contribution he made to the party and a lesson for the younger leaders that the party is above the individual. That way he was a great man, who took care of taking the coalition ahead together as well as reached out to the masses and made sure their support was there for issues he raised. Remember, the Panchayati Raj system was made constitutional much after he started it in West Bengal. He also started the land reform movement. Whenever there was fear of communal riots, he showed that if the administration was strong such incidents could be averted. He was a role model with whom I had the opportunity of working.