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Somnath Chatterjee, former Lok Sabha Speaker, dies of cardiac arrest at 89

Somnath Chatterjee, former Lok Sabha Speaker, dies of cardiac arrest at 89
Somnath Chatterjee, one of the longest-serving parliamentarians in India, was not keeping well from the last few months. (Photo: File | PTI)

Kolkata: Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee died on Monday morning in Kolkata days after he was admitted to hospital with a kidney ailment.

He was 89 years old.

Somnath Chatterjee, who was admitted to Belle Vue hospital on August 8, was put on ventilator support after he suffered a heart attack. Doctors had said he was “stable” after being put on ventilator.

His condition turned critical on Sunday evening.

The 10-time parliamentarian had been frequently hospitalised for the last two months. Doctors said he was undergoing dialysis.

Last month, the former Speaker had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. After his condition improved, he was discharged from the hospital. But three days later, on Tuesday, he had to be hospitalised again.

“Chatterjee suffered a attack this morning,” news agency Press Trust of India quoted a doctor as saying.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Chatterjee’s mortal remains would be taken from hospital to the High Court first, and then to the state Assembly. “He will be given the highest state honour there,” she said.

After a few hours at the Assembly, Chatterjee’s body will be taken home and then to the SSKM Hospital. “He had donated his body for research,” Banerjee said.

Veteran politician Somnath Chatterjee joined the CPI(M) in 1968 and remained a prominent leader till 2008.

A 10-time member of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee  became the 14th Speaker of the Lok Sabha in 2004 when the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh came to power. He served as the Speaker of Lower House till 2009.

However, he was expelled from the party in 2008 by general secretary Prakash Karat when he refused to resign as speaker after CPI(M) and other left parties withdrew support to the government over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Somnath Chatterjee, who has represented Burdwan, Jadavpur and Bolpur parliamentary constituencies from 1971 to 2009, was only defeated in 1984 by the present chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, who was then in the Congress.

President Ram Nath Kovind in his condolence said, the death of Somnath Chatterjee is “A loss for public life in Bengal and India.”

“Anguished by his demise” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi added, “He made our Parliamentary democracy richer and was a strong voice for the well-being of the poor and vulnerable.”

Union Minister Sushma Swaraj in her tweet expressed condolences and said, “In spite of our ideological differences, we cherished a very cordial relationship.”

“He was an institution. Greatly respected and admired by all parliamentarians, across party lines,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted in his condolence message.

“Lost a father figure” tweeted CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim.

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee also expressed her condolences.