Freedom fighter and West Bengal’s senior most Left leader, Ashok Ghosh, who was state secretary of the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) since 1951, died on Thursday.
Ghosh, 94, had been on ventilator support since last month after being rushed to Apollo Hospital on February 2 following lower respiratory tract infection.
Ghosh’s condition became very critical on Wednesday night. On Thursday, at 11.25 a.m., he breathed his last, hospital superintendent Partho Bhattacharya said.
Joining India’s freedom movement in the 1940s, Ghosh was deeply inspired by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s political philosophy and revolutionary ideals.
In 1948, Ghosh became national convenor of AIFB, founded by Bose, and took over as its West Bengal unit secretary in 1951 – retaining the post till his death.
He was also the party’s all-India financial secretary.
One of the founding members of the Left Front in West Bengal, Ghosh played a prominent role in formulating the policies of the coalition which ruled Bengal from 1977 to 2011.
However, he was critical of the Left Front over acquisition of farmland for setting up industries.
Ghosh also criticized the lack of transparency in the way the Left Front government acquired land in Singur in Hooghly district for the Tata Motors project.
At the same time, he tried to resolve the Singur tangle by calling all party meetings which were attended by then opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee.
The veteran leader called Tatas “traitors” after the auto-major relocated the industrial unit to Sanand in Gujarat in 2008.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her grief over Ghosh’s death.
“Saddened on the passing away of veteran politician Ashok Ghosh. He used to adore me a lot,” she said.
CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said the Left movement had lost its guardian.
“He was the senior most leader of the state’s Left movement. We are deeply saddened…
“He played a significant role in the Left movement, formation of the Left Front and keeping it intact for so many years. He was like a guardian to us.”
Added Forward Bloc leader and former minister Hafiz Alam Sairani: “His death is a huge blow to the democratic movement in the state and the country.”
“He was truly a mass leader who devoted his entire life for the people. Living his entire in the party office, his only concern was welfare of the masses,” former Bloc MP Barun Mukherjee said.
Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee said: “In him we have lost a guardian, a mass leader. We don’t know how long will it take to fill the void created by his absence.”