Supporters bid tearful adieu to Somen Mitra

Kolkata, Jul 30 (PTI) Hundreds of party cadres and supporters bade a tearful adieu to West Bengal Congress president Somen Mitra, whose mortal remains were consigned to flames on Thursday evening.

The veteran leader breathed his last at a Kolkata hospital in the early hours of Thursday. He was 78.

'Mitra was admitted to the hospital a few days ago after his creatinine level was found to be high during a routine check-up. He was a patient of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and had other age-related ailments,' a senior official at the hospital said.

His mortal remains were taken to the state Congress headquarters, where leaders cutting across party lines paid tributes to the political stalwart.

Amid chanting of slogans 'Somen Mitra Amar Rahe' (Long live Somen Mitra), supporters gathered at Bidhan Bhavan to catch one last glimpse of 'Chhorda', as he was fondly referred to by many in the party.

From there, his body was taken to the Assembly, where representatives of various political parties, including Speaker Biman Banerjee, offered their tributes.

Mitra's remains reached his ancestral home on Amherst Street in the evening.

His last rites were performed by his son at Nimtala crematorium in north Kolkata.

A stalwart in West Bengal politics, Somendra Nath Mitra cut his teeth in politics during the tumultuous 1960s as a student leader.

Mentored by Congress stalwarts like ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury, Mitra's first brush with electoral politics happened in 1972 when he became the youngest MLA in the West Bengal Assembly from the Sealdah seat at the age of 26.

He went on to become the state Congress president thrice from 1992-1996, 1996-1998 and then again from September 2018 till his death.

Except for 1977, Mitra continued to win the Sealdah assembly segment, which has now ceased to exist after delimitation, for six consecutive terms from 1982 to 2006.

He left the Congress in 2008 to form his political outfit Pragatisheel (Progressive) Indira Congress. He later merged his outfit with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and won the election on a TMC ticket from the Diamond Harbour parliamentary seat that year.

Mitra quit the TMC in 2014 to rejoin the Congress.

He was one of the chief architects behind the CPI (M)-led Left Front and Congress alliance in West Bengal during the 2016 assembly polls. PTI PNT RMS RMS

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