Kolkata, August 13: Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee passed away at a private hospital here on Monday morning following multiple organ failure.

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He was 89 and is survived by wife and two daughters. Chatterjee passed away at around 8.15 am after his condition deteriorated following Sunday’s “mild heart attack”.

Chatterjee was suffering from a kidney-related ailment and was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition on Tuesday.

Chatterjee was ailing for a while and was in and out of hospital. He was last admitted in hospital on last Thursday. He passed away after suffering a major cardiac attack while kept in ventilator at the hospital.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi was among the first to mourn Chatterjee’s death. In a tweet, the Gandhi family scion 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”.

Homage started pouring in with the ticking of the clock. Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP chief Amit Shah are among those who have mourned Chatterjee’s death.

Modi said, “He (Chatterjee) made our parliamentary democracy richer and was a strong voice for the poor and the vulnerable”.

Chatterjee was born in Tezpur in Assam on July 25, 1929. His father Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee, a successful barrister, hadremained president of the AkhilBharatiya Hindu Mahasabha.

Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee died in 1971 when he was an Independent MP from Burdwan. The Burdwan seat was then won by his son Somnath Chatterjee as a CPI(M) candidate.

Like his father N C Chatterjee, SomnathChatterjee, too, was a barrister from the Middle Temple in the UK.

SomnathChatterjee, despite his long stint with the CPI(M), was expelled from the party in 2008 by the then general secretary Prakash Karat for refusing to quit from the Lok Sabha speaker’s post in deference to the party’s decision to withdraw support to the UPA government on the Indo-US Nuclear deal issue.

Though some of Chatterjee’s admirers had expected him to resign after the confidence vote in the Lok Sabha on the nuclear deal issue, that did not happen and Chatterjee carried on as the Speaker till the term of the UPA came to an end in 2009. A respected parliamentarian, Chatterjee was elected as the Speaker in 2004 without any opposition.
While formal condolence from the CPI(M) on account of Chattopadhyay’s death is yet to come, MD Salim, CPI(M) Lok Sabha member from West Bengal, tweeted, saying, “I lost a father figure. My tribute to Somnath Chatterjee whom I owe a lot”.

Chatterjee was married to Renu Chattopadhyay and the couple had one son and two daughters.

Source Tribune India

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