Jyotirindra Basu was a leading personality of the CPI(M) (Communist Party of India, Marxist). He was born in Calcutta (Bengal) to a typical Bhadralok family (Bengali-educated upper-middle class). After completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Calcutta, he attended the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1935, where he became close to the Communist circles of Great Britain. Back in India, he joined the CPI and became one of its prominent leaders. When the CPI split in 1964, Basu was one of the leaders who formed the CPI(Marxist). In 1977, with the victory of the Left Front, he became West Bengal’s chief minister, a position he retained for twenty-three years—a record in Indian politics. His government carried on with the Politburo program and, among many decisions, undertook large-scale land reforms. But, regarding communal issues, he did not deviate from the balanced policies of his non-Communist predecessors. There were indeed many communal issues in West Bengal which might have been exploited and become explosive (e.g., issues such as Bangladeshi migrants on India’s border; the specific problems of Muslim-majority districts [for instance, Murshidabad]; and the “sensitive areas” of Calcutta’s harbor). But West Bengal was spared by the 1984 anti-Sikh violence and by the Hindu–Muslim riots that engulfed all of India in the years preceding the demolition of the Babri Masjid. On that fateful day, however, the government, over-confident, could not curb the violence which overwhelmed the town. In 1996, Jyoti Basu was offered the post of prime minister by the United Front coalition, a function he could not accept as the CPI(M) eventually refused to participate in the government.