As someone who grew up in Calcutta and witnessed the beginnings of its long-term decline, I find it difficult to lionise Jyoti Basu.
Whatever his personal inclinations, he was the public face of a socially regressive movement that destroyed Bengal's age-old refinement. He led the mob that made the Bengali coarse.
Even these could have been overlooked had he left West Bengal in a better state than when he first assumed charge in 1967 (remember that he was the driving force behind the United Front governments of 1967 and 1969). He unleashed forces that caused the complete destruction of Bengal's manufacturing industry.
He killed the work ethic in Bengal. He helped make Bengalis a tribe of the permanently aggrieved.
Mamata Bannerjee is his true successor. She will complete his unfinished agenda of destruction.
POSTSCRIPT: There are however some endearing qualities about Jyoti Basu the man. He was a politician of unimpeachable personal integrity. He was also simple in his lifestyle, without being either austere or a humbug. I particularly admired his inability to cast off his innate fascination for England. He traveled there most summers since 1977, ostensibly to attract foreign investment--an useful euphemism for just chilling.