SOMNATH CHATTERJEE (born 25 July 1929) is an Indian politician who
had been associated with the
Communist Party of India (Marxist) for
most of his life, though he is currently an independent. He was the
Speaker of the Lok Sabha
Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) from 2004 to 2009.
* 1 Education and family background
* 2 Political career
* 2.1 Expulsion from the CPI (M)
* 2.2 Awards and honors
* 3 Controversies
* 4 Personal life
* 5 References
* 6 External links
EDUCATION AND FAMILY BACKGROUND
Assam , his father,
Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee , was
a prominent lawyer, intellectual, and Hindu revivalist and nationalist
around the time of India's independence, and his mother, Binapani Debi
ran the home.
Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee was one of the founders and
one-time president of the
Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha . In 1948,
when the Communist Party of
India was banned by the Jawaharlal Nehru
Indian National Congress government in India, and its party
Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee formed the All
Liberties Union, and agitated for their release. In the process, he
came close to
Jyoti Basu , in spite of continuing ideological
political differences between the two.
Somnath was educated at Mitra Institution School, Presidency College
and then the
University of Calcutta
University of Calcutta in Calcutta . He also attended
Jesus College, Cambridge
Jesus College, Cambridge and graduating with a B.A. in 1952 and a M.A.
in 1957, both in law, has been awarded an honorary fellowship by the
college in 2007. He was called to the bar from the
Middle Temple in
London and took up legal practice as an advocate at the Calcutta High
Court before joining active politics.
Somnath Chatterjee was a member of the Communist Party of India
(Marxist) (CPI(M)) from 1968 to 2008. In 1971, he was nominated to
contest an interim election caused by the death of his father, who had
been elected from that constituency. He became a Member of the Lok
Sabha in 1971 and was elected the first time as an independent
candidate supported by the CPI(M). Subsequently he was re-elected nine
times, except once when he lost to
Mamata Banerjee in the
Sabha constituency in 1984. From 1989 until 2004 he was the leader of
his party in the Lok Sabha. He was elected for the tenth time in 2004
as a member of the 14th
Lok Sabha from
Lok Sabha constituency,
which is considered to be a CPI(M) stronghold. Following the 2004
election, he was appointed as the pro tem speaker and subsequently on
4 June 2004 he was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the 14th Lok
Sabha. He was the second pro tem Speaker after Ganesh Vasudev
Mavalankar to achieve this feat.
EXPULSION FROM THE CPI (M)
After the CPI (M) withdrew its support for the United Progressive
Alliance -led government in mid-2008, the party included Chatterjee's
name on its list of MPs who were withdrawing their support from the
government, despite his non-partisan position as Speaker. Chatterjee,
however, appeared unwilling to follow the party line to vote against
the government in a crucial July 2008 confidence vote , as voting
against the government would mean voting alongside the right-wing
opposition BJP. Ignoring the party's instructions, he decided to stay
on in his post as Speaker of the House, acting in this capacity during
the confidence vote. Following the vote, which the government
survived, on 23 July 2008, the CPI (M) expelled him from the party for
violation of party discipline . A CPI (M) press release said, "The
Politburo of the Communist Party of India-Marxist has unanimously
decided to expel
Somnath Chatterjee from the membership of the party
with immediate effect. This action has been taken under Article XIX,
clause 13 of the Party Constitution for seriously compromising the
position of the party." Bengal secretary Biman Bose said "Chatterjee
may have acted according to the Indian Constitution but the party
constitution is supreme in case of party members."
According to Chatterjee, the expulsion was "one of the saddest days"
of his life. He suggested that future speakers should resign from
their parties while serving in that office to help ensure its
non-partisan standing. His constituency of
Bolpur had already been
reserved for the
Scheduled Castes , meaning he would have been unable
to contest the seat in the next election ; he announced in August
2008, following his expulsion from the CPI(M), that he would retire
from politics at the time of the next election in 2009. He was broadly
respected in his constituency; the CPI(M)'s 2009 candidate, Ramchandra
Dom , expressed admiration for Chatterjee and vowed to continue his
work, while the Congress candidate, Asit Mal , said that the people of
Bolpur were "hurt at the way was driven out of the CPI-M" and that
their feelings would "be reflected in the results".
AWARDS AND HONORS
In 1996 he won the
Outstanding Parliamentarian Award .
In 2005, he was caught in a controversy over his statement on the
Supreme Court orders related to the vote of confidence in the
Jharkhand Assembly. He said that the Supreme Court was encroaching on
the right of the Legislature by issuing orders on the proceedings of
Jharkhand Assembly. He asked for a
Presidential reference to the
Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Indian Constitution . This
remark was criticised by
Bharatiya Janata Party which supported the
Supreme Court's decision.
The Opposition demanded his resignation because he held an office of
profit as Chairman of Santiniketan Sriniketan Development Authority
(SSDA). He argued that since he did not profit from the office, the
demand was baseless.
Chatterjee married Renu Chatterjee, who comes from the zemindar
Lalgola , on 7 February 1950. The couple have one son,
Pratap and two daughters, Anuradha and Anushila. Pratap Chatterjee is
presently practising in
Calcutta High Court
Calcutta High Court .
Somnath Chatterjee is known for his fiscal integrity. When in 2004,
as speaker, he moved into the official residence at 20 Akbar Road, he
discontinued the practice of paying for toiletries and tea from the
national exchequer. On trips abroad, he bore the expenses of any
accompanying family members.
* ^ http://18.104.22.168/newls/Biography.aspx?mpsno=73
* ^ A B http://www.indianexpress.com/sunday/story/340802.html
* ^ "Speaker adamant, may quit both House and party", Hindustan
Times, 17 July 2008.
* ^ "Somnath pays price for violating party line", IANS
(headlinesindia.com), 23 July 2008.
* ^ "CPI-M fails to pull down Govt, sacks Somnath". CNN IBN. 23
July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
* ^ "The Telegraph".
* ^ Santosh H K Narayan, "No taker of Speaker\'s suggestion",
headlinesindia.com, 1 August 2008.
* ^ Sirshendu Panth, "Retired
Somnath Chatterjee omnipresent in old
constituency", IANS (thaindian.com), 3 April 2009.
* ^ "The Conscientious Marxist"
Tehelka Retrieved 2008-08-18
* ^ Speaker to seek Kalam’s view on SC order, The Tribune India,
10 March 2006. Accessed 27 September 2006.
* ^ Not holding any office of profit, says Somnath, The Hindu, 25
March 2006. Accessed 27 September 2006.