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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Two-time Rajya Sabha MP, journalist Chandan Mitra dies at 66

Although considered a prominent right-wing intellectual when he was first nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP in 2003, Mitra’s ability to forge friendships beyond political ideologies could be judged by the leaders of various parties who paid tributes to him.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 3, 2021 3:06:02 am
Chandan Mitra, Chandan Mitra passes away, Chandan Mitra dead, Chandan Mitra news, who was Chandan Mitra, Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra, India news, Indian expressChandan Mitra was also the Editor and Managing Director of The Pioneer. (Express file photo/Kevin D’Souza)

VETERAN JOURNALIST and two-term Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra died at his Sainik Farms home here late Wednesday night. He was 66.

Editor and managing director of The Pioneer newspaper, Mitra had been unwell for the past one year.

Although considered a prominent right-wing intellectual when he was first nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP in 2003, Mitra’s ability to forge friendships beyond political ideologies could be judged by the leaders of various parties who paid tributes to him.

Among the first to condole his death Thursday morning was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Shri Chandan Mitra Ji will be remembered for his intellect and insights. He distinguished himself in the world of media as well as politics. Anguished by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” he tweeted.

President Ram Nath Kovind said Mitra was an “outstanding journalist and his stint as a parliamentarian added to his reputation”. “His understanding of Hindi heartland and its history was profound. His demise leaves a void in Indian journalism,” he tweeted, offering condolences to his family.

Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose party Mitra joined in 2018, tweeted, “Saddened by the demise of Shri Chandan Mitra. He will be remembered for his contribution to the world of journalism and politics.”

Mitra started his journalism career with The Statesman in Kolkata. He joined The Pioneer, which he headed editorially for around 24 years, after stints at The Times of India, Sunday Observer and Hindustan Times newspapers.

A year into heading The Pioneer, its then owners, the Thapar Group, handed over the newspaper to Mitra in 1998. It was in June this year that he stepped down as the newspaper’s printer and publisher.

Among the leading editors of his time, Mitra’s dynamism lay in being able to have an all-encompassing and accommodative view of the world around him, even if they ran contrary to his ideology or belief system. He gave special attention to issues such as climate change, urban and rural development, heritage, and education. He realised the soft power of Bollywood and encouraged serious discourses on the film industry in a mainstream newspaper.

A supporter of Left politics in his student years, Mitra was drawn to the right-leaning ideology and the BJP. Considered close to L K Advani, he got a second term in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 when he was elected as a BJP member from Madhya Pradesh.

He, however, quit the party eight years later to join the Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in his home state West Bengal.

An avid foodie, he was an authority on Hindi film music and wrote extensively on it. At the end of a hard day at work, he loved to go back to his favourite Archie comics or listen to Rabindra Sangeet.

An alumnus of La Martiniere Calcutta and St Stephen’s College, Delhi, Mitra got MA and M.Phil in History from Delhi University and even taught briefly at Hansraj College. Later, he went to earn a doctorate from Oxford University.

Mitra is survived by his wife Shobori Ganguli, and two sons Kushan and Shakya Mitra. His last rites were performed at Lodhi Crematorium, where several editors and journalists gathered to pay tributes.

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