Somnath first comrade in Speaker’s chair

Updated on May 26, 2004 10:22 AM IST

After a day-long meeting, the CPM has accepted Cong's offer of Lok Sabha speakership for its veteran leader Somnath Chatterjee.

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PTI | By, Kolkata

Veteran CPI(M) leader Somnath Chatterjee is all set to be the new Speaker of the Lok Sabha, with his party accepting the Congress' offer for the post.

Somnath will be the first Marxist to sit in the Speaker’s chair.

At the end of a day-long politburo meeting here, CPI (M) general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet said: "We have decided to spare Somnath Chaterjee as the Speaker in the 14th Lok Sabha. We hope the entire country will welcome this decision and Somnath will contribute to our cause. The Congress wanted him on the basis of his performance in the Lok Sabha for several years now and we appreciate their gesture.''

After initial hesitation, Somnath gave in to the party decision and said he would do his best to conduct the proceedings of the House with support and cooperation of all members.

"It's a great honour to be offered the post and selected by the party. Being the first Marxist Speaker is sheer coincidence. But the fact that a Marxist has been offered the post proves that we are the most responsible politicians… I will try to seek the support of all members to run the House," Somnath said.

When asked to describe his feelings about the new assignment, he said: "I am not really excited about it. I was initially in two minds. But comrades asked me to take the assignment and I will abide by my party decision."

The 10-time MP — a forceful speaker known for his wit and sarcasm — is upset that he will not be able to speak in the House this time. "I will have to adjust to the new role," he quipped.

On whether he would face difficulty in running the House given the fact that the government is headed by a coalition, Somnath was forthright: "There are bound to be tensions. It is for the Speaker to ensure smooth conduct of the House. We will work together. I have seen the House for a long time, so nothing will be a surprise."

Somnath currently holds the posts of chairman West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) and chairman Santiniketan-Sriniketan Development Authority. While he was non-committal about the WBIDC, he said he would like to retain SSDA's chairmanship as it falls in his constituency Bolpur.

Meanwhile, the politburo has nominated Basudev Acharya as the leader of its parliamentary party.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arindam Sarkar is Editor-Special Projects of Hindustan Times, Kolkata. He has spent over two decades covering Bengal and national politics of India as correspondent and editor. He has also covered South Asian countries.

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