CPI-M desists from calling Somnath 'comrade' in condolence note

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New Delhi : The CPI-M on Monday issued a brief condolence message on the death of veteran Communist leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee that conspicuously avoided any reference to his long association with the party.

"The Polit Bureau of CPI-M expresses its grief and sorrow at the death of former Speaker and 10-time Member of the Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee," the condolence message from the Communist Party of India-Marxist read.

"Somnath Chatterjee was a veteran parliamentarian who played an important role in defending the foundations of the Indian Constitution particularly its secular democratic foundations and federalism.

"As an eminent lawyer by profession, he also took up the cause of the working class and the deprived to ensure justice is delivered to them. The Polit Bureau conveys its heartfelt condolences to his wife and children," it added.

Chatterjee was expelled from CPI-M in 2008 following his refusal to quit the post of Lok Sabha Speaker after the Left party fell out with the Congress over the Indo-US nuclear deal. He never reapplied for membership nor did the party take him back.

But CPI-M leaders in West Bengal kept in touch with Chatterjee in their individual capacity and on Monday paid glowing tributes to him.