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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Left veteran just wants to retire
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Jyoti Basu
Even in old age, Mr Basu it seems cannot put his feet up
Communist leaders across the world are not keen on retirement, and veteran Indian Marxist Jyoti Basu is being told by comrades not to break the tradition.

On Wednesday the 93-year-old pleaded with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo to be allowed to retire in view of his advanced age.

But the politburo turned down his request with a resounding "nyet".

They have told the veteran West Bengal politician that he must remain active in politics at least until 2008.

Leg injury

"We told him he has to continue until the next party congress in 2008. After that, we will review the situation," said CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat.

I am feeling very weak at times these days
Jyoti Basu

So it is not certain that Mr Basu will be left alone after the next party congress.

The veteran leader, who was chief minister of the West Bengal for 22 years from 1978, was not very amused.

"I am feeling very weak at times these days," he said while he walked past journalists, helped by his long-time assistant Joy Krishna Ghosh.

Jyoti Basu recently injured his right leg after a fall at his Salt Lake residence in Calcutta.

A team of doctors attended to him for several days and announced that he had responded to treatment.

Mr Basu has a two-hour massage several times a week, despite a tight political schedule.

"Without that, he cannot go on," said a doctor who attends to him but was not willing to be named.

When he stepped down from the position of chief minister of West Bengal to make way for his chosen successor, Buddhadev Bhattacharya, six years ago, the CPI(M) politburo wanted to use his services for "organisational expansion elsewhere in the country".

But Mr Basu preferred to spend much more time in his hometown, Calcutta, than in Delhi.

"That is a weakness shared by several of his Bengali comrades. They hate to stay long in Delhi," said Calcutta's left-watcher Ashis Biswas.

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