“You Know, I have a special Assam connection. I was born in Tezpur town. So you can call me a Asomiya”, said Chatterjee in a function held at Guwahati in October 2010. Chatterjee was the chief guest in the function held at Rabindra Bhaban.
He was 89 years old at the time of his demise. He had served as the 13th Speaker of the Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009.
Chatterjee was born in Tezpur of Assam during the British rule on July 25 in the year 1929. 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 led Indian National Congress government in India and its party leaders arrested, Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee formed the All India Civil Liberties Union, and agitated for their release.
He had Joined CPI-M in 1968 and was expelled from the party in 2008. A towering figure in the party and its only Speaker in Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee was expelled during the tussle between the CPM and the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh over the Indo-US nuclear deal. Chatterjee described it as “one of the saddest days” of his life but he was never apologetic about the decision.
He was elected as Member of Parliament for ten times from Bolpur, Jadhavpur and Bardhman in West Bengal. He became a member of the Lok Sabha in 1971. In his life, Chatterjee lost only one election – to now Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee in 1984, which made her the youngest Parliamentarian at the age of 29 years.
He was instrumental in telecasting the Zero Hour proceedings in the Parliament. A full-fledged 24-hour Lok Sabha television channel also came into being in July, 2006 during his tenure.