Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee died in a Kolkata hospital on Monday morning, days after he was admitted with a kidney ailment. He was 89.
A 10-time member of the Lok Sabha, Chatterjee was one of the most respected parliamentarians of the country.
The son of barrister Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee, a prominent parliamentarian of the Hindu Mahasabha – the ideological forerunner of Bharatiya Janata Party, Chatterjee joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1968 and remained a member till 2008.
Chatterjee first contested for and won the Lok Sabha election in 1971 from Burdwan constituency, a seat that fell vacant after the incumbent, his father, died that year. He went on to win nine more elections to the Lower House, the last in 2004.
Somnath Chatterjee’s ties with the CPI(M) were severed dramatically on July 23, 2008, when the party issued a statement expelling him on grounds of “seriously compromising the position of the party”. Chatterjee was a central committee member then.
It was during his term as the speaker of the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-2009) that DD Lok Sabha was replaced by Lok Sabha TV, a step that was recognised as a step in increasing transparency of Parliament.
Chatterjee is survived by wife Renu, son Pratap,who is a lawyer, and daughter Anushila.