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CPI(M) Leaders Mourn Somnath Chatterjee's Demise But Remain Divided About Membership Issue

Former Tripura chief minister Nripen Chakraborty who died at the SSKM Hospital in 2004, got his membership back two days before his death. He too was also expelled from the party in 1995 for opposing Jyoti Basu on some issues.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:August 13, 2018, 3:43 PM IST
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CPI(M) Leaders Mourn Somnath Chatterjee's Demise But Remain Divided About Membership Issue
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Kolkata: As India mourned the death of former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Monday, the debate over his membership in CPI (M) resurfaced, drawing mixed reactions from political leaders.

While some strongly believed that he should have been given back the party membership, others refrained from commenting on the issue.

Somnath Chatterjee refused to vote against the UPA-I government during the No-Confidence Motion in 2008 on grounds that it would mean voting alongside opposition BJP. He had said that he is not the Speaker of the Left but the Speaker of the House.

Chatterjee was subsequently expelled from CPI (M) for not resigning as the Speaker after the party withdrew its support to the UPA alliance.

Former Tripura chief minister Nripen Chakraborty who died at the SSKM Hospital in 2004, got his membership back two days before his death. He too was also expelled from the party in 1995 for opposing Jyoti Basu on some issues.

Senior CPI (M) leader Kanti Ganguly said, “I wish the party could have given him back his membership. I am very depressed as it could not happen. I am hurt. I was in Delhi at his residence when he was expelled. He told me that his expulsion came as a saddest day in his life.”

CPI (M) legislator Sujan Chakraborty termed Chatterjee’s death a big setback.

“Today, we lost Somnath da around 8.15 AM at a private hospital in Kolkata. He was in hospital and doctors didn’t allow anyone to meet him considering his health condition. Therefore it (giving back his membership) didn’t happen,” he added.

Expelled CPI (M) MP Ritabrata Banerjee, who recently joined Trinamool Congress, said, “Somnath da was an institution. He will remain an institution. When he was expelled, I personally felt that it happened because he never bowed down before the central leadership coterie.” He added that Chatterjee’s expulsion showed the “arrogance and anti-Bengali mind set.”

Another senior party leader Ashok Bhattacharya, however, refused to make any comment in this issue.

CPI (M) state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra, hinting at Chatterjee’s expulsion and said, “He was always there with the party and we were in constant touch with his family members.”

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said that Chatterjee paid the price for being honest.

“He was the pride of Bengal. “He was ideologically stubborn and that is why he fulfilled his duty as a Speaker and paid the price it of being honest. It was unfortunate that he was expelled and I personally feel that ideally he should have given back his party membership. Though, it is the internal matter of the party but ideally he should be given the membership,” Ghosh said.

State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, said, “He was a colossus in the Indian politics and a great lawyer. His stature was above everything and I don’t think his membership issue is big enough as compare to his stature.”
| Edited by: Padmaja Venkataraman
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