Communist veteran Somnath Chatterjee passes away; Chatterjee was outstanding parliamentarian, say leaders across party lines

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KOLKATA/NEW DELHI, Aug 13 (PTI): Communist veteran and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee passed away at a private hospital here on Monday following multiple organ failure, a senior hospital official said.

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

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

“He suffered a multiple organ failure and had stopped responding to treatment since late Sunday night. He passed away at around 8.15 am,” the official told PTI.

He had suffered cardiac arrest, systemic sepsis, renal failure along with respiratory problems and underlying diabetes, a senior doctor, who was treating Chatterjee, said.

Chatterjee had suffered a mild heart attack on Sunday morning, but was revived. Last month, the former speaker had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke.

He was under treatment for the past 40 days and was discharged from the hospital just for three days after his health had shown signs of improvement.

However, his condition deteriorated last Tuesday and he had to be hospitalised again, the official said. Leaders across party lines condoled the death of Chatterjee, describing him as an outstanding parliamentarian who enriched Indian politics.

Condoling his death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he 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,” the prime minister said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Chatterjee was an institution and greatly respected and admired by all parliamentarians across party lines. Former Vice President M Hamid Ansari in his condolence message said, “He was a remarkable human being, an eminent parliamentarian and a very clear headed speaker of the Lok Sabha. I convey my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family”.

Condoling his death, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, “Saddened at the passing away of former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath (Da) Chatterjee. My condolences to his family and admirers. This is a great loss for us all”.

Governor KN Tripathi also expressed heartfelt condolences at the passing away of Chatterjee. CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “It’s a big setback for us. Today, West Bengal lost its guardian. Its a big loss to the nation.”

A 10-time Lok Sabha MP, Chatterjee was a central committee member of the CPI(M), which he had joined in 1968.

He was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009. The veteran leader was, however, expelled from the CPI(M) in 2008 for refusing to resign as Speaker after his party withdrew support to the UPA-I government.

Mukhi, Sonowal condole death

Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi, while mourning the death of Chatterjee, said, “Saddened to learn the death of Somnath Chatterjee. A prudent and towering personality in Indian politics, his death is a great loss to the country. Chatterjee was a symbol of value-based politics and his long career as Parliamentarian is characterized by value and principle”.

Mukhi further said that the veteran Communist leader Chatterjee’s stint as the Speaker of Lok Sabha would always be remembered as he took the integrity of the Speaker’s independent position altogether to a new height. He enriched Indian politics with his political prudence.

Assam chief minister Sarbanadna Sonowal expressed his condolences over the death of Chatterjee and said that with his death the country has lost an able son who contributed greatly to the growth of parliamentary democracy in India. During his long career as Parliamentarian, he practiced value-based politics and strengthened the foundation of democratic traditions in the country.

He also expressed his sympathy to the members of the bereaved family and prayed to the Almighty for eternal peace to the departed soul.

Industries and commerce minister Chandra Mohan Patowary also condoled the demise of Chatterjee.

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