TEN-TIME Congress MLA and former state minister Gyan Singh Sohanpal, who was affectionately called “chachaji”, passed away at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday following age-related problems. He was 92. Sohanpal, who was admitted to SSKM last week, passed away at 3.30 pm. He is survived by a daughter. Sohanpal was sworn in as the Speaker of West Bengal Legislative Assembly for a brief period on May 18, 2011. An MLA from Kharagpur Sadar constituency, he lost his seat to BJP West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh in the 2016 state elections.
The veteran leader had contested his first election in 1962 and became a minister in 1969 in the Ajoy Mukherjee Cabinet. In Siddhartha Shankar Ray’s Cabinet (1972 to 1977), Sohanpal was the minister for transport, jail and parliamentary affairs departments. He has represented Kharagpur since 1982. In the 2011 polls, he defeated CPM’s Anil Kumar Das, making him the seniormost MLA in the Assembly.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, expressing her condolences, tweeted: “Saddened at the passing of Gyan Singh Sohan Palji. We have lost a veteran legislator. My condolences to his family and friends. He was a very senior member of the West Bengal Assembly. Tomorrow, the Government will give his mortal remains a gun salute.”