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 would 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.
Chatterjee's body was taken to the Calcutta High Court in early afternoon. Judges, led by Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya paid their last respects to Somnath Chatterjee.
The Bar Library Club, of which he was a member, the Bar Association and many lawyers also paid floral tributes to the departed former Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Bar Library Club president Jayanta Mitra paid rich tributes to Chatterjee, with whom he had worked for many years from the early 1970s. "I was privileged to have worked with him. I witnessed from close quarters his advocacy, his astute legal brain and personality in court," Mitra, a former advocate general of West Bengal, said. "He used to dominate wherever he appeared, whether in courts or as a Member of Parliament and as Speaker," Mitra said.
The Bar Library Club took a resolution not to attend high court today as a mark of respect. The resolution was also adopted by the Bar Association and Incorporated Law Society.
President Ram Nath Kovind in his condolence said, the death of Somnath Chatterjee is "A loss for public life in Bengal and India."
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 #PresidentKovind— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 13, 2018
"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."
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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 13, 2018
Union Minister Sushma Swaraj in her tweet expressed condolences and said, "In spite of our ideological differences, we cherished a very cordial relationship."
I am sorry to know about the sad demise of Shri #SomnathChatterjee. In spite of our ideological differences, we cherished a very cordial relationship. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) August 13, 2018
"He was an institution. Greatly respected and admired by all parliamentarians, across party lines," Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted in his condolence message.
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. #SomnathChatterjee— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 13, 2018
"Lost a father figure" tweeted CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim.
I lost a father figure. My tribute to #SomnathChatterjee whom I owe a lot. Salute to a great Parliamentarian.— Md Salim (@salimdotcomrade) August 13, 2018
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee also expressed her condolences.
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— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) August 13, 2018