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Lok Sabha

A daunting task, but I’ll manage it, says Somnath

Jayanta Gupta

Wednesday 26 May 2004, by GUPTA*Jayanta

KOLKATA: "It is a great responsibility, but I think I can manage with my 33 years of experience as a Parliamentarian, " CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee said on Tuesday evening, after learning his party had finally cleared his name for Speaker of the 14th Lok Sabha. The veteran leader looked happy, as he received calls at his south Kolkata residence.

"Mind you, I have not yet been elected the Speaker. I am just a candidate. Buddhadeb (the chief minister) was the first to call me at around 6.25 pm . He was the one who gave me the news about the politburo decision. I have been receiving calls since then. BJP leader Vijay Goel called on Monday to congratulate me, " he said, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself called.

"I am sleeping peacefully since you have become the PM, " Chatterjee told Singh over the phone. "The PM told me that he will sleep peacefully tonight, after learning that my party has approved my candidature, " he told reporters around him.

"I don’t know how the people of West Bengal will take this, but I shall not be a Bengali while I am sitting on the chair. My wife was not happy at first and felt I would not do a good job with my temper. Now she has told me to perform my job well, " he said.

"Will you be happy if I am the Speaker? You won’t go around agitating against me, will you, " Chatterjee joked with Trinamul Cong chief Mamata Banerjee, after she called to congratulate him.

At 7.45 pm , Chatterjee got a call from CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu. "I came to know of this from Buddhadeb. I will meet you at your residence on Wednesday morning, " he told Basu.

"I will require the help and co-operation of all members. Being the first Left speaker makes things more difficult. People’s expectations make it more difficult for the chair. The speaker must rise above everything else and work towards maintaining order in the House. The opposition is an integral part of Parliament and should get a little more liberal treatment than the ruling party, " Chatterjee said.

Chatterjee doesn’t feel the composition of the ruling coalition will lead to any problems.

See online : The Times of India


in The Times of India, Wednesday, May 26, 2004.

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