Born On: 25th July, 1929
Born In: Tezpur, Assam
Somnath Chatterjee is an eminent politician who hails from West Bengal and a former member and a stalwart of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M). He is also a trade unionist and a social worker. He enjoyed huge support of the people from the Bolpur Constituency in West Bengal, from where he was re-elected 9 times to the Assembly. He is remembered for his non partisan stand when he was required to decide between his party ethics and follow his duties as a Speaker, though he was expelled from his party later. He has won various accolades for being the best parliamentarian. He was responsible for various foreign direct investments in West Bengal during the tenure of Jyoti Basu. He is revered by the people of Burdwan and Birbhum districts in West Bengal, and the people of villages around Shanty Niketan for improvising roads and the provision of medical facilities.
Somnath was born in Tezpur, Assam. His father, Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee was a famous lawyer during the India's fight for independence. His mother, Binapani Debi was a house wife. He received his early education at Mitra Institution School. Later he went to Presidency College and then to the University of Calcutta. He studied B.A in 1952 and M.A in 1957, both degrees were done in law at Jesus College, Cambridge. Somnath was qualified as an Advocate by the Middle Temple University in London. Recently in 2007, he was awarded an honorary fellowship by the college.
Somnath Chatterjee started his career as a lawyer by practicing at the Calcutta High Court. He then went on to become a politician from the state of West Bengal in India. He was an active member of CPI (M) from 1968 to 2008. However, he was expelled from the party in 2008 because of compromising party ethics. He was nominated to contest in the Bolpur Lok Sabha Constituency after the death of his father. He was elected for the tenth time from this Constituency and became the 14th Speaker of the Lok Sabha in 2008. Somnath lost only once in an election and this was against Mamatha Banerjee in the year 1984 from the Jadavpur Lok Sabha Constituency. Soon after he was expelled from the Party, his Constituency was reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. This meant that he couldn't contest from this Constituency ever again, though he had a massive support there.
Somnath, recently, published his autobiography titled "Keeping the faith: Memoirs of a Parliamentarian". According to the present Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, this book is an important contribution to India's political history. Somnath won the "Outstanding Parliamentarian Award" in 1996 for his works. When Jyoti Basu was the Chief Minister of West Bengal, he became the chairman of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC). He promoted Foreign Direct Investment or FDI in West Bengal by frequently visiting foreign shores. Since he signed more than just one Memorandum of Understanding or MOUs, Somnath was conferred the nickname "Mou-da". He has also written various books on varying subjects. He has also written articles in leading news dailies and various print media, including Lok Sabha publications. He is the first communist in India to become the speaker of the Lok Sabha. He has contributed towards the improvement of the status of women in villages. He even steered the construction of new roads, one of which included the Bolpur-Burdwan bypass. He also solved a water crisis that affected major parts of Burdwan and Birbhum districts of West Bengal. He has constantly worked over the years toward improving medical facilities in villages near Saniniketan and has also played an important role in development projects in Bolpur. As the Speaker, Somnath introduced a lot of parliamentary reforms. He revised the rules for Parliamentary Tours after consulting the chairman of the Rajya Sabha. This meant that the reports of foreign tours by the Members of Parliament should be put across the table of the house for further reviews. He worked passionately towards introducing better transparency and also accountability into the working of the Lok Sabha. He televised the proceedings of the "Zero Hour" of the house. He introduced a 24- hour Lok Sabha Television channel that came into force on July 24, 2006.
1929: Somnath was born in Tezpur, Assam
1952: Graduated in B.A (Law)
1952: Graduated in M.A (Law)
1968-2008: Was a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M)
1971: He became a Member of the Lok Sabha by contesting as an independent, supported by CPI (M)
1984: He lost the election to Mamata Banerjee in the Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency
1986-1989: Member of a Joint Committee on Lok Pal Bill, Member of a Joint Committee on Prasar Bharati Bill
1989-2004 - He was the leader of his party in the Lok Sabha
2004: He was elected as the Speaker of the 14th Lok Sabha.
2008: He was expelled from the CPI (M).