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'It's the Saddest Day of My Life': When CPM Expelled Somnath Chatterjee for Not Quitting as Speaker

I met him 15 days ago and he was battling for life. I wish the party could have given him back his membership. I am very depressed as it could not happen. I am hurt.

Kanti Ganguly |

Updated:August 13, 2018, 2:00 PM IST
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'It's the Saddest Day of My Life': When CPM Expelled Somnath Chatterjee for Not Quitting as Speaker
I met him 15 days ago and he was battling for life. I wish the party could have given him back his membership. I am very depressed as it could not happen. I am hurt.
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I have been long associated with Somnath da and I have never seen such a gentle, hospitable man in my life. Today, he left all of us but for me it’s an irreparable loss. I lost my elder brother, my guardian who taught me how to conduct my politics.

I met him 15 days ago and he was battling for life. I wish the party could have given him back his membership. I am very depressed as it could not happen. I am hurt.

He was always a person who used to inspire all his colleagues. He was affable, gentle and hospitable—rare traits in today’s politicians. He was a great lawyer but never charged a dime for cases in which he appeared for trade union.

He was a great orator and never compromised on his ideological beliefs. Which is why Somnath da refused to vote against the government during the No-Confidence Motion in 2008, as it would mean voting alongside the opposition BJP.

He was also very clear that the Speaker of the House did not belong to a party. In 2008, he was expelled from CPI(M) for not resigning as the Speaker after the party withdrew its support to the UPA alliance.

Somnath Chatterjee

I still remember that day when he was expelled from the party. I was in Delhi at his residence and he told me, “Kanti today is the saddest day in my life.”

“Losing one's father is sad, but today is the saddest day in my life. The party expelled me. It’s an unfortunate day in my life. I fulfilled my duty as a Speaker. Sitting in that chair, I cannot be biased and my party has expelled me,” he added.

After his expulsion, Somnath da met Jyoti babu. The former Bengal Chief Minister gave him a letter which was supposed to be placed before the central committee of the CPI(M).

Unfortunately it was never placed. Later, I came to know about the contents of Jyoti Babu’s missive in which he supported Somnath da’s decision not to resign as Speaker. The letter was never discussed or placed in the central committee meeting.

Somnath Chatterjee retired from active politics in 2009 and never went back to AK Gopalan Bhawan—CPI (M) party office in Delhi. He used to maintain a good relationship with leaders of all political parties. We have lost a great leader today.

(Kanti Ganguly is a senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former minister in West Bengal government. He spoke to Sujit Nath of News18.com)
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