Tributes have poured in for the former Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, who died at a private hospital in Kolkata on Monday morning. The 10-term MP had suffered a mild heart attack prompting the doctors to keep the veteran Marxist on ventilator.
Known for his statesmanship and unmatched integrity, Chatterjee was expelled by his party when he refused to step down as the Speaker in 2008 after the CPI-M withdrew support to the UPA over the nuclear deal.
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.
Chatterjee had suffered hemorrhagic stroke on on 25 June this year. “It was a hemorrhagic stroke with a medium size clot, which is ordinary. But it is dangerous for a patient aged 89 years,” ANI had quoted hospital sources then.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Chatterjee made ‘our parliamentary democracy richer.’ “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,” Modi tweeted.
President Ram Nath Kovind wrote, “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.”
Reacting to his death, Congress President Rahul Gandhi 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.”
CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy said that Chatterjee was a brilliant leader of the Communist movement and an honest man who lived a simple life. He said, “He (Chatterjee) was one of the brilliant leaders of the Communist movement though his father was a founder of Hindu Mahasabha. He became a Marxist and rationalist throughout his life and he was one of the best speakers, impartial speakers.”
Former Lok Sabh Speaker Meira Kumar told ANI, “I can’t believe that he is no more. I knew he is ill but didn’t know that this will happen. It is an honour for me that I could sit on the chair (of Lok Sabha Speaker) that he occupied once. He was an amazing person.”
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that Chatterjee’s mortal remains will be kept in the state assembly for a few hours before being handed over to his family members. Chatterjee’s body will be taken to his residence from where they will be taken to SSKM Hospital where he had donated his body for medical research, Banerjee said.
Here are some of the notable reactions from key leaders on Chatterjee’s death:
We are deeply saddened by the passing of #SomnathChatterjee Ji, former LS Speaker, 10 times MP, widely respected & admired by all cutting across party lines. Have many fond memories of him as we shared a very cordial relationship. Our thoughts and prayers for bereaved family.
— Lalu Prasad Yadav (@laluprasadrjd) August 13, 2018
#SomnathChatterjee father figure, always encouraged youngsters in #Parliament, I am one of many examples. He had a very cordial relation with my late father #ShBhagwatJhaAzad 6 time #MP and former #CMofBihar #RIPDada
— Kirti Azad (@KirtiAzadMP) August 13, 2018
He was a very eminent parliamentarian & a man of great erudition, a speaker who added lustre to the chair. In his passing away, we have a lost very eminent personality. He has left behind a void. People will remember him: Former Vice President Mohd Hamid Ansari #SomnathChatterjee pic.twitter.com/c9vK36ED5G
— ANI (@ANI) August 13, 2018
#WATCH: Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan tears up while talking about #SomnathChatterjee who passed away this morning; says, ‘he was like an elder brother to me’ pic.twitter.com/ff1EXtdUXI
— ANI (@ANI) August 13, 2018
Saddened by the demise of former speaker #SomnathChatterjee. India has lost a distinguished parliamentarian, greatly respected and admired across party lines. May His soul rest in peace! Condolences and prayers with his family.
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) August 13, 2018
Rest in peace now Somnath da. It was an honour to have known you & to have learnt from you. The Lok Sabha was much the poorer by your absence in recent years. India has lost a parliamentary giant today. #SomnathChatterjee
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) August 13, 2018
One week apart, they bid us farewell. Between them, they who won 23 elections! #Kalaignar won all the Assembly Elections (13) that he contested & #SomnathChatterjee was elected to the Lok Sabha 10 times
— Derek O’Brien (@derekobrienmp) August 13, 2018