Kolkata, Aug 13: President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday led the nation in paying glowing tributes to former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, one of the country’s most respected parliamentarians, who died here in the morning. Calling him “a veteran parliamentarian who had a forceful presence in the House”, the President tweeted: “A loss for public life in Bengal and India. My condolences to his family and innumerable well-wishers.”
Modi described Chatterjee, a 10-time MP, as a stalwart of Indian politics who made parliamentary democracy richer. Congress President Rahul Gandhi hailed him as “an institution”. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who came to prominence incidentally with her triumph over Chatterjee in the Lok Sabha polls from Jadavpur consituency in 1984, termed it a great loss.
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.” Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also paid homage to Chatterjee. Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy described the veteran parliamentarian 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. DMK leader M.K. Stalin said Chatterjee was a good friend of his late father and DMK President M. Karunanidhi. Maharashtra Chief Minster Devendra Fadnavis also mourned the death, 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. In Kolkata, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Biman Bose said 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.” (IANS)