Political leaders across party lines on Monday mourned the death of former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who passed away at a private hospital in Kolkata this morning following multiple organ failure.
Tributes started pouring in as news came in of the death of the 10-time Lok Sabha MP who had joined the CPI (M) in 1968.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several political leaders described him as an outstanding parliamentarian who enriched Indian politics.
Chatterjee was speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009. He was a stalwart of Indian politics, Modi said.
“He made our parliamentary democracy richer and was a strong voice for the well-being of the poor and vulnerable” an “anguished” prime minister said, adding that his thoughts were with Chatterjee’s family and supporters.
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Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Chatterjee was an institution and greatly respected and admired by all parliamentarians across party lines.
Conveying his condolences to Chatterjee’s family and supporters, BJP chief Amit Shah said Chatterjee was an excellent parliamentarian. His long years as a member of the House enriched parliamentary traditions, he added.
“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.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal echoed him and termed Chatterjee one of the “greatest parliamentarians” of contemporary times who will also be remembered as one of the greatest Lok Sabha Speakers India has ever had.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Chatterjee and she shared a very cordial relationship despite their ideological differences.
He was principled and scholarly, and played a significant role in India’s parliament, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Union minister Arun Jaitley said he will be remembered for his contributions which enriched Indian politics and was an outstanding Parliamentarian.
According to former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, Chatterjee had through his life been a democrat, a liberal and a champion of enlarging the constituency for social democracy.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said Chatterjee was a dignified person who set high standards of conduct during his stint as the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
The passing away of “Somnath Da” is a great loss for us all, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in her condolence message.
(With inputs from PTI)