Paying Homage to Somnath Chatterjee, who died on August 13, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday said that the former Lok Sabha Speaker will be remembered for the stand that he took when the CPI(M) “joined hands with the BJP” to move a no-confidence motion against “our party” — “Somnath-ji,” Singh recalled, rose to the occasion” to protect the Constitution — and to protect the role of the Speaker.
Singh said Chatterjee showed that he loved his party, but the party was not above these constitutional values. “Such was the man who presided over Lok Sabha,” Singh said at a condolence meeting for Chatterjee, held at the India International Centre.
Describing Chatterjee as a “father-figure, a scholar, a great son of India, a great Parliamentarian, and a great jurist”, Singh said Chatterjee’s memory “needs to be preserved and protected” And the best way to do that is to “stand firm in the defence of the constitutional, democratic values enshrined in our Constitution”, Singh said.
Read | Who was Somnath Chatterjee?
Speaking at the event, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari also made a fervent appeal to the people to stand firm in defence of the Constitution and democratic values. Calling Chatterjee “a great son of Kolkata, in the best traditions of the intellectuals of that city”, Ansari said that he was “dedicated to the Constitution and constitutional values”.
Former Union Minister and Congress spokesperson S Jaipal Reddy said: “He (Chatterjee) was a great Parliamentarian… I would rate him the third. The first was Indrajit Gupta (of the CPI), the second was (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee-ji, and the third Somnath-ji.”
CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy recalled that Chatterjee was “very sad” when the CPI(M) expelled him.