A day after Basu’s death, the bungalow was thrown open to the media for the first time in two decades. Everything was intact — the security ring, the sprawling lawn with seasonal flowers, the bookshelf, the kitchen and the bedroom. Only its sole occupant for the last two decades was no more.
Basu’s bedroom was put under lock and key today. The books he used to read have been packed in three huge trunks by his attendants. A wooden panel, decorated with photographs of his political career, serves as a divider between two halls - one where Basu used to read newspapers in the morning and the visitors’ room.
A few members of the CPM have proposed to turn the bungalow into the Jyoti Basu Museum. “We have received a few proposals from members of the Left front to convert this government guest house to a museum. This is a very nice proposal. We will discuss it and it needs to be sanctioned by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the party. Since it is not a property of the CPM, a lot of discussion needs to be done on the matter,” said state Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharya.
“If we cannot convert it into a museum, we can at least turn a portion of this huge bungalow into a research centre where students can come and know about the great patriarch of the communist party,” said Bhattacharya.
“Nobody is here now. No one is here to press the calling bell and ask to get a book. Nobody will ask me to read out the newspaper. No one is here to ask for chocolates. In the last seven months, sir had developed a love for chocolates. I used to go to the markets and look for new chocolates,” said Rabindranath Das, Basu’s cook and attendant. He soon broke down.
The communist leader’s telephone assistant Pranab Bandyopadyay said, “A month ago, I used to be flooded with calls for Basu from several corners of the country. At times, when he could not take calls, he used to tell us to note down the problems and requirements and later, he would reply to them. He never used a computer as he did not believe in computers and claimed these machines cut employment. But recently, we convinced him to get a fax machine. However, everything is lying idle now. The phone has stopped ringing now,” said Pranab.
The bunglow, maintained by the state Urban Development department, was inaugurated in 1972 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The late prime minister had stayed there for over a week during the 1972 All India Congress Committee session in Calcutta .
The state government started looking for a suitable house for Basu after doctors said the accommodation in Raj Bhavan, where he lived since 1986, lacked sunshine. Indira Bhavan was chosen for him because of its pollution-free environment. The Urban Development department, which had built Indira Bhavan as a single-storey bungalow in 1971, expanded it into a two-storey house in the mid-eighties. The bungalow was renovated in 1989 after Basu settled there.