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Tributes pour in for Somnath Chatterjee, the 10-time Parliamentarian

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and political leaders cutting across party lines expressed grief over the veteran leader’s demise.

SNS | New Delhi |

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chaterjee died at a nursing home in Kolkata on Monday following prolonged age-related ailments. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and political leaders cutting across party lines expressed grief over the veteran leader’s demise.

“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…” President Ram Nath Kovind said in his condolence message posted on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “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.”

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi hailed him as “an institution” who was respected by all parliamentarians.

“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,” he tweeted.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee too posted a condolence message over the death of the “outstanding Parliamentarian & Constitutionalist”.

“My deepest condolences on the demise of Shri Somnath Chatterjee. An outstanding Parliamentarian & Constitutionalist,he remained committed to the cause of people with a firm belief in pragmatic consensus. In his demise I have lost a personal friend &the Nation has lost a great son,” he tweeted.

Remembering “Somnath Da”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said his death was “a great loss”. “Saddened at the passing away of former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath (Da) Chatterjee. My condolences to his family and admirers. This is a great loss for us all,” she posted on Twitter.

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal remembered him as “one of the greatest Lok Sabha Speakers India ever had”.

“Extremely sad news about Somnath Chatterjeeji. One of the greatest parliamentarians of contemporary times he will always be missed by this country,” Kejriwal tweeted.

The veteran Left leader had been expelled from the Communist Party of India-Marxist on July 23, 2008, “for seriously compromising the position of the party” as he had refused to resign as the Speaker after the party withdrew support to the first United Progressive Alliance government over the India-US civil nuclear deal.

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The West Bengal unit posted a tweet expressing “profound grief”.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Biman Bose said in Kolkata Chatterjee always used to talk in favour of the masses. “Somnath Da’s demise is a colossal loss to parliamentary politics…He used to always think of the masses,” Bose told the media.

CPI-M state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra added: “He attended meetings and programmes in support for democracy even after his retirement from active politics.”

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “A stalwart parliamentarian, popular amongst people and one of greatest Speakers of Lok Sabha. A huge loss to the Indian democracy.”

In Karnataka, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy described Chatterjee as a towering figure in Indian politics.

“Somnathda was known for stirring parliament speeches, which motivated a generation of Indians. We lost a conscientious leader who fought for social justice and harmony. May his soul rest in peace,” tweeted Kumaraswamy.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also paid homage to Chatterjee.

In Chennai, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said the Left leader expertly presided over the Lok Sabha.

PMK founder S. Ramadoss said Chatterjee was a man of impeccable integrity and earned the respect and friendship of all party leaders.

DMK leader MK Stalin said Chatterjee was a good friend of his late father and DMK president M Karunanidhi.

Mourning Chatterjee’s death, Maharashtra Chief Minster Devendra Fadnavis , saying the country lost “a tall and influential Communist leader”.

“A universally respected person, his long career in parliamentary politics served to inspire and guide the leaders and workers alike. His role as the Lok Sabha Speaker will always be remembered for the way he upheld the Constitution and democratic norms,” he said.

Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan said he was “deeply saddened”.

Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar described Chatterjee as “a dignified person who set high standards of conduct during his stint as Lok Sabha Speaker”.

Chatterjee died at 8.15 am at the Bellevue Clinic in Kolkata, where he was re-admitted on August 7 following his discharge three days ago.

His condition had been critical following a heart attack he suffered on Sunday morning.

(With agency inputs)