India

Somnath Chatterjee, Former Lok Sabha Speaker, Dies at 89 He was ill for some time now and passed away this morning in Kolkata

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SOMNATH CHATTERJEE, former Lok Sabha Speaker and the expelled leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) from West Bengal, passed away in Kolkata at the age of 89.

He was unwell for some time now and was admitted to the Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata where he passed away this morning. He is survived by his wife and children.

Born on 25 July 1929, in Tezpur, Assam, Somnath Chatterjee joined the CPI(M) party in 1968 and was a 10-term lawmaker.

He was an alumnus of Calcutta University and had a Master’s Degree in Law from Cambridge University, UK.

The bhadralok barrister with the deep baritone, Somnath Chatterjee was the first communist Speaker and was credited with running the Lok Sabha with utmost impartiality and a strong sense of moral duty during his tenure from 2004 to 2009.

This was the period when the United Progressive Alliance-1 coalition was in power led by the Congress party and supported by the left parties.

His strong voice and presence helped him manage the floor effectively, and so did his intellect and wit which won him many admirers across parties.

But his sense of duty was questioned in 2008 when his party asked him to step down as the Speaker to support the vote of no confidence brought against the government by the left allies.

He refused to resign by saying that as the Speaker, the chair and the person occupying was above party politics and if he quit, it would mar the reputation of the independent and impartial position of the Speaker.

For this stand, Somnath Chatterjee was expelled from his party after a 40-year association.

He had lost only one election in his life, in 1984, to Mamata Banerjee from the Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency in South Kolkata.

Banerjee had contested the election as a Congress candidate. She is now the leader of the Trinamool Congress party and the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

Somnath Chatterjee was conferred the “Outstanding Parliamentarian Award” in 1996 and it was in his term as the Speaker that Lok Sabha Television was launched in 2006.

#SomnathChatterjee: WHAT THEY SAID

President Ram Nath Kovind

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan

CPI(M) Leader Sitaram Yechury

National Conference Leader Omar Abdullah

Former Vice-President Hamid Ansari

His Stand

Emergency Days

-ENDS-

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