As his family rejected the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leadership's offer to drape his body in the party's flag, the mortal remains of former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee were draped in the red and green flag of his favourite football club Mohun Bagan.
Chatterjee passed away on Monday morning following multiple organ failure at the age of 89. Wrapped in the flag of India's oldest football team, Chatterjee's body was taken from Belle Vue hospital to Calcutta High Court and then to the West Bengal Assembly. After being accorded a gun salute at the Assembly, it was then to his residence in Kolkata.
In lines with Chatterjee's wishes, his body was donated to medical science and handed over to the government-run Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital later in the day.
Chatterjee had joined the CPM in 1968 and later became the central committee member of the party. However, he was expelled in 2008 for refusing to step down as Lok Sabha Speaker after the party withdrew support to the UPA government. After his demise, the CPM approached Chatterjee's family, requesting them to allow them to take his body to the party headquarters at Alimuddin Street in central Kolkata for the last respects, reported News18.
His daughter Anushila said that though the family did not accept CPM's offer, her father "might have been happy (if his body was draped with the party flag)".
She also said that he was "pained" after his expulsion from the party, he had never said anything against the CPM. "We could see his agony and pain. He loved the party throughout his life," Anushila said, adding that she had tried to make Chatterjee speak against the party, but her father never did it.
"We don't want any courtesy from them (CPM). They have shown enough courtesy," she told a news channel.
Anushila, however, said many leaders from the party kept in touch with her father and some of them also came to pay their respects on Monday.
Senior CPM leader Nepaldeb Bhattacharya was quoted as saying by PTI that many leaders visited Chatterjee in the last few years to convince him to rejoin the party, but the issue could not be resolved.
When the body was taken out of his residence, CPM activists raised slogans like "Somnath Chatterjee amar rahe (Long live, Somnath Chatterjee)", "Red salute to Somnath Chatterjee".
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Aug 14, 2018 16:59:13 IST