Leaders from several political parties have tweeted condolences on hearing that former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has died. He was 89. The 10-time parliamentarian was admitted to a Kolkata hospital with a kidney ailment.
He had been in and out of hospital for the last two months. Doctors said he was undergoing dialysis. In his political career, Mr Chatterjee lost only one election — to Mamata Banerjee in 1984 in Jadavpur constituency.
A summary of the condolences from leaders of different political parties:
“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,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
“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,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
“I am sorry to know about the sad demise of Shri Somnath Chatterjee. In spite of our ideological differences, we cherished a very cordial relationship. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family,” Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
Somnath Chatterjee was the key leader of the CPM, which he had joined in 1968. He became the Speaker from in 2004 when the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh came to power. The veteran leader was, however, expelled from the CPM in 2008 after the Left Front, one of the biggest allies of the UPA, withdrew support from the government over the India-US nuclear deal.
The party wanted Mr Chatterjee to step down as the Speaker and vote against the government during the trust vote. But Mr Chatterjee had refused to resign, maintaining that as Speaker, he was above partisanship and party politics.