Communist veteran Somnath Chatterjee passes away
Kolkata/New Delhi, Aug 13 : Communist veteran and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee passed away at a private hospital here this morning following multiple organ failure. He was 89.
The 10-time Lok Sabha MP is survived by his wife Renu, a son and two daughters.
Chatterjee passed away around 8.15 am after his condition deteriorated following a mild heart attack yesterday, a hospital official said.
“He suffered multiple organ failure and had stopped responding to treatment late last night,” the official told PTI.
His body was taken to the state Assembly, where it was accorded a gun salute, and then to his residence.
Chatterjee, who was associated with the Communist Party of India-Marxist for most of his life, had donated his body to medical science.
It will be handed over to the government-run SSKM hospital later in the day.
He had suffered a cardiac arrest, systemic sepsis and renal failure along with respiratory problems and underlying diabetes, said a senior doctor, who was treating him.
Chatterjee suffered a mild heart attack yesterday morning but was revived.
The former speaker had suffered a haemorrhagic stroke last month.
Known as a ‘Bhadralok (gentleman) Communist’ like his mentor Jyoti Basu, Chatterjee had been under treatment for the past 40 days. He was discharged from 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 hospital 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 who was greatly respected and admired by all parliamentarians across party lines.
“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,” said former vice president M Hamid Ansari in a condolence message.
Recalling her long association with Chatterjee, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said he was from a different ideology, but was always kind to her.
“I have been observing Somnath da from the very first day I entered Parliament and learnt a lot from him. He was a big brother to me,” Mahajan told reporters.
She added that Chatterjee’s tenure as the Lok Sabha speaker was a guide for her and he had established that the speaker’s post was above politics by refusing to step down from his position.
Chatterjee, who was speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009, was expelled from the CPI(M) in 2008 for refusing to resign as speaker after his party withdrew support to the UPA-I government.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the death of “Somnath Da” was a “great loss for us all”.
State Governor K N 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. It’s a big loss to the nation.”
Chatterjee was a central committee member of the CPI(M), which he had joined in 1968.