Somnath Chatterjee passes away at 89: Veteran CPM leader receives 21 gun salute; body to be donated for medical research

Former Lok Sabha Speaker and CPM veteran Somnath Chatterjee breathed his last on Monday morning at a Kolkata hospital after battling kidney ailment, media reports said. He was 89 years old and had suffered a mild cardiac arrest, reports said. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that Chatterjee would be accorded the highest honour of 21 gun salute by the West Bengal Assembly.

According to ANI, the CPM veteran was suffering from a kidney ailment and was put on ventilator support on Saturday. Soon after, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said, "Chatterjee along with many other party leaders had donated his body for medical research. Before that, the mortal remains would be kept at party office where last respects will be paid to him. Then the remains will be taken to West Bengal Assembly. From West Bengal Assembly, the body will be handed over to hospital. The final programme will be decided soon after consulting with his family." The CPM politburo released a statement expressing their grief at his death: "The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) expresses its grief and sorrow at the death of former Speaker and ten-time Member of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee. Somnath Chatterjee was a veteran parliamentarian who played an important role in defending the foundations of the Indian Constitution particularly its secular democratic foundations and federalism. As an eminent lawyer by profession, he also took up the cause of the working class and the deprived to ensure justice is delivered to them. The Polit Bureau conveys its heartfelt condolences to his wife and children." 

Later, at the West Bengal Assembly, the former Speaker was given 21 gun salute.

The 89-year-old was re-admitted to hospital on 10 August following the slight decline in his health. Chatterjee, who is one of the longest-serving parliamentarians in India, was not keeping well from the past few months. On Sunday, the health condition of the former Lok Sabha Speaker was said to be critical.

 Somnath Chatterjee passes away at 89: Veteran CPM leader receives 21 gun salute; body to be donated for medical research

File image of former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. Reuters

A 12-member team of doctors was keeping a constant watch on the veteran politician, an official had told PTI. Last month, the former speaker had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. "He was under treatment for the past 40 days. Chatterjee was discharged from the hospital just for three days after his health showed signs of improvement. However, his condition deteriorated last Tuesday and he had to be hospitalised again," the official had said.

Chatterjee a 10-time Lok Sabha MP, is currently an independent candidate. He served as the Speaker of Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009. He joined the CPM in 1968 and remained its leader till 2008.

He was expelled from the political outfit after he refused to step down from his position in the Parliament after the Communist party withdrew support from the Congress government over the India-US nuclear deal.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 13, 2018 15:58:33 IST