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Ex-LS Speaker Somnath Chatterjee dies at 89

Published : Aug 14, 2018, 1:33 am IST
Updated : Aug 14, 2018, 1:33 am IST

Eighty-nine-year-old Chatterjee, who was suffering from a kidney-related ailment, was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee pays her last respects to former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee at state Assembly in Kolkata. (Photo: PTI )
 Chief minister Mamata Banerjee pays her last respects to former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee at state Assembly in Kolkata. (Photo: PTI )

Kolkata: Veteran parliamentarian and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee passed away at the age of 89 on Monday morning after a prolong illness. He is survived by his wife Renu Chatterjee and two daughters and a son. But controversy did not leave him even in his death.

Waking upto the Marxit maverick’s demise the CPI(M), which had expelled him in July 2008 after his 40 years of stint for refusing to vote against the government in the no-confidence motion in the parliament during the UPA-I rule and not quitting the Speaker’s post despite a party directive, wanted to drape his body in party flag in his last journey as a mark of tribute.

But his family rejected it leaving the CPI(M) red-faced. The body was also not taken to the state party headquarters at Alimuddin Street. Chatterjee’s daughter Anushila Basu said, “My father was in pain since his expulsion. Sitting in the ante-chamber he was in tears after it was declared. Many gave him offers. But he told them: No. The party offered to put flags on the body. We told them we do not want it.”

She added, “My father might have been expelled from the party but he was not at distance from it mentally.” Admitted at Belle Vue Clinic Since August 7 for the treatment of his kidney related ailments, Chatterjee had been put on ventilator on Sunday after he suffered a cardiac arrest.

He breathed his last at around 8.15 am after another blow of cardiac arrest struck him. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to the private hospital in south Kolkata and chalked out his final journey. She said, “Somnath Chatterjee was a senior politician. He was an eminent lawyer. He was a ten-time MP. He was also the Lok Sabha Speaker. We are pained by his sudden demise.”

The Trinamul Congres announced that Chatterjee would be accorded a gun salute. The body was taken in a cortege from the hospital to the Calcutta High Court where he practised as a lawyer in his early life. It was then brought to to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly where a gun salute was given by the Kolkata Police after the ministers, MLAs of all parties paid their last tribute.

Later the body was taken to his residence at Raja Basanta Roy Road in south Kolkata where his family members paid him their last respect. Left Front chairman Biman Bose also went there to pay his tribute. But he faced the heat of Chatterjee’s family. In the evening the body, which was pledged, was donated to SSKM Hospital fulfilling his wish. Ironically it was the World Organ Donation Day.

In his condolence message President Ram Nath Kovind said “Sorry to hear of the passing of Shri Somnath Chatterjee, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha and a veteran parliamentarian who had a forceful presence in the House. A loss for public life in Bengal and India. My condolences to his family and innumerable well-wishers.”

Mourning Chatterjee’s death Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in twitter, “Former MP and Speaker Shri Somnath Chatterjee was a stalwart of Indian politics. He made our Parliamentary democracy richer and was a strong voice for the well-being of the poor and vulnerable. Anguished by his demise. My thoughts are with his family and supporters.”

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said, “I mourn the passing away of Shri Somnath Chatterjee, 10 term MP and former Speaker of the Lok Sabha. He was an institution. Greatly respected and admired by all parliamentarians, across party lines. My condolences to his family at this time of grief.”

West Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi expressed his grief on Chatterjee’s demise. A statement from Raj Bhavan said, “A ten-time Lok Shabha MP, Shri Chatterjee was an outstanding parliamentarian who always raised the voice for the well-being of the poor and marginalized people. And as a speaker he played a vital role to make the parliamentary democracy stronger. The Governor observed. Hon’ble Governor conveyed his heart –felt condolences to his bereaved family and supporters.”

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