Somnath Chatterjee, former Lok Sabha Speaker passed away Monday morning at a private hospital in Kolkata following multiple organ failure. Chatterjee was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in 2004 during the first UPA government. He was later expelled from the party in 2008 for refusing to resign as Speaker after his party CPM withdrew its support from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Describing July 23, 2008, as “one of the saddest days of my life,” Chatterjee had said in a statement that, “The speaker of Lok Sabha, like the speakers of other elected assemblies, while acting as such does not and cannot represent any political party.”
In his last speech to the MPs during the Parliament Budget Session in February 2009, Chatterjee recounted the successful transactions and questions that were raised in the House during the 14th Lok Sabha session.
Read | Who was Somnath Chatterjee
“Putting questions is an important instrument in the hands of the members to scrutinise the functioning of the executive,” Chatterjee said in his address to the parliamentarians. During his tenure, multiple legislations including the Right to Information Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Protection for Women from Domestic Violence Act among others were discussed in the House. He also expressed regret that Lok Sabha did not pass the Women’s Reservation Bill during his tenure.
Chatterjee was acknowledged as one of the finest Speakers of the House. On his last day in Lok Sabha, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh described him as a “role model” for transacting business in Parliament. “You stood like a rock to defend our best parliamentary traditions, and in doing so have raised the bar for those to follow,” he said.
The 89-year-old leader was a ten-time MP in Lok Sabha between 1971 to 2009, except the 1984 election when he was defeated by Mamata Banerjee.