Leaders across political lines
on Thursday condoled the death of West Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra describing him as a grassroot politician with deft organisational capacity.
Mitra passed away at a Kolkata hospital early Thursday. He was 78.
Veteran CPI(M) leader Biman Bose recalled his personal equations with Mitra and said his death was a blow to "the secular and democratic forces in the state who are trying to forge a united fight against the BJP and Trinamool Congress."
Bose recalled how Mitra rose above partisan politics and kept personal equations with him and leaders of other parties.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said it was a great loss for Bengal politics.
"Somen da's death means the end of an era. We might have differences in political ideology. But over and above this he was a people's leader who had a long chequered political innings," Ghosh said.
BJP MP Locket Chatterjee said "may the departed soul rest in peace. My condolences to his family."
Trinamool Congress leader and senior West Bengal minister Subrata Mukherjee said Mitra was instrumental in his baptism into politics as a student leader in early 70s and he (Mukherjee) and late Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi got immense support from Mitra as they worked for the party in 70s.
"I had lost a great friend when Priyo da had died two years back. Now Somen has also gone all off a sudden. Last two days I heard he is recovering. But this morning got the shocking news," Mukherjee said.
He described Mitra as a dedicated and brave party worker.
TMC MP Sougata Roy said Mitra was an organisational man and recalled "how he fought against Naxal and CPI(M) terror in 70s, and built up the youth congress and congress."
"We don't belong to the same party but I have great respect for him," Roy said.
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Choudhury said: "I have lost my guardian in politics".
Congress leader in the West Bengal Assembly Abdul Mannan said "I was inducted into state level by Somen da. He was popular among grassroot workers and earned their love for his behaviour.
"We had arguments and differences. But that never soured our relationship as an elder and younger brother. He was a legendary leader," Mannan said.
Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said Mitra believed in "balance politics and he never believed in personal attack and acrimony."
Mitra passed away around 1.30 am following a cardiac arrest, hospital sources said, adding that he had tested negative for COVID-19. He is survived by his wife and son.
A three-time president of the Congress West Bengal unit from 1992-1996, 1996-1998 and then again from September 2018, Mitra was a seven-term MLA from the Sealdah assembly constituency.
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