Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who was rushed to hospital in a critical condition last week, has succumbed. He was 89.
"He died at 8:15am," said Pradip Tondon, Chief Executive, Belle Vue Hospital, Kolkata.
Chatterjee, one of India's longest-serving parliamentarians, had been suffering from ill health recently. In July, he had a hemorrhagic stroke.
The former CPI(M) leader was currently an independent MP.
Chatterjee was born in Assam's Tezpur in 1929. He began his political life with the CPI(M) in 1968 and became a Lok Sabha member in 1971.
In his over 50-year political journey, he has only lost one election, when Mamata Banerjee defeated him in 1984.
Chatterjee won praises from his partymen and rivals alike. In 1996, he won the then newly-instituted 'Outstanding Parliamentarian' award.
Within the CPI(M), Chatterjee soon rose to the rank of a central committee member.
He became the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in 2004.
But in 2008, the Left Front withdrew support from the then UPA-I government over the India-US nuclear deal.
The party wanted him to resign too, but he refused, asserting that as speaker, he was above party politics.
The CPI(M) then expelled him.
Afterwards, Chatterjee's constituency, Bolpur, was reserved for SC candidates, so he couldn't contest from there despite his popularity.
But reports broke out in 2015, when Sitaram Yechury was elevated within the CPI(M), that the party wanted to bring him back.
However, Chatterjee said in an interview that he had refused the offer: he didn't believe his expulsion was justified in the first place.
After a hemorrhagic stroke last month, Chatterjee was admitted to hospital, and was discharged after his condition improved.
Days later, on August 8, he had to be hospitalized again.
Doctors said he was suffering from kidney-related ailments and was undergoing dialysis. His condition was said to have stabilized, but it turned critical yesterday.
He was shifted to the ICU and was responding to treatment, a doctor had said.
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