West Bengal Congress chief Somen Mitra, who died on Thursday, will go down in historical past as a pacesetter who may make pals with rivals with the consummate ease of a political craftsman however failed to forestall a debilitating cut up within the occasion and presided over its gradual decline.
The cut up sowed the seeds for the formation of the Trinamool Congress led by a fiery Mamata Banerjee who, within the years that adopted, decimated each the mighty Left and the Congress.
A identified bete noire of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, it was throughout Somen Mitra’s second time period as Congress president within the late 1990s that his occasion misplaced the standing of the principal opposition to the then seemingly invincible Left Entrance to the TMC.
Somen Mitra died at a metropolis hospital within the early hours of Thursday. He was 78. He was within the hospital for 17 days resulting from coronary heart and kidney issues. He died following a cardiac arrest, hospital sources mentioned.
Born on December 31, 1941, in Jessore district (now Bangladesh), Somen Mitra was the eldest of 5 siblings. A stalwart in West Bengal politics, Somen Mitra minimize his enamel in politics in the course of the tumultuous 1960s as a pupil chief.
After his baptism in politics in 1967, when Bengal had its first non-Congress authorities, Somen Mitra, by way of his organisational and oratorical expertise, shortly rose by way of the ranks and have become some of the in style leaders of the occasion together with late union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi. Mentored by Congress stalwarts like ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury, Somen Mitra’s first brush with electoral politics was in 1972 when he turned the youngest MLA within the West Bengal Meeting from the Sealdah seat at 26.
Apart from 1977, Somen Mitra continued to win the Sealdah meeting section, which has now ceased to exist after delimitation, for six consecutive phrases from 1982 to 2006. Addressed as ”Chhorada” (youthful brother) by his supporters, Somen Mitra was some of the firebrand politicians within the 1960s and 1970s, and had performed an important position within the combat in opposition to the Naxals in Kolkata throughout that interval.
Throughout his political profession spanning 5 many years, he was thought-about a favorite of the Congress excessive command and loved wonderful rapport with the Gandhi household. However that didn’t cease him from defeating Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s handpicked candidate DP Roy in the course of the 2000 Rajya Sabha ballot by pitting a rival candidate.
Somen Mitra, who went on to change into the state Congress president thrice from 1992-1996, 1996-1998 after which once more from September 2018 until his dying, was instrumental within the occasion clocking its greatest tally of 82 seats in opposition to the Left Entrance within the 1996 meeting polls.
However with the Congress and the Left Entrance coming collectively on the Centre to assist the United Entrance authorities, its credibility because the principal opposition to the CPI(M) in Bengal reached a nadir. It was throughout that point that Mamata Banerjee, then the West Bengal Youth Congress president, was quick rising because the rallying level in opposition to the Left Entrance dispensation.
Somen Mitra and Mamata Banerjee bought locked in an internecine feud. The relations between the 2 hit all-time low when Mamata Banerjee pitted herself in opposition to Somen Mitra for the submit of state Congress president. Somen Mitra managed to win the occasion election by 22 votes amid acrimonious scenes at Maharashtra Niwas in south Kolkata. It was alleged that Somen Mitra, backed by the then Congress nationwide president Sitaram Kesari, cornered Mamata Banerjee within the occasion.
Mamata Banerjee broke away and launched the Trinamool Congress in 1998. With the TMC aligning with the BJP and changing the Congress as the primary opposition to the Left Entrance in West Bengal after bagging seven seats within the 1998 parliamentary polls, Somen Mitra stepped down as state occasion president. He left the Congress in 2008 to type his political outfit Pragatisheel (Progressive) Indira Congress.
There aren’t any everlasting enemies or pals in politics, so the saying goes. Somen Mitra merged his outfit with Mamata Banerjee’s TMC forward of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and gained the election from Diamond Harbour. Variations arose between the 2 once more, and Somen Mitra stop the TMC in 2014 to rejoin the Congress.
He was made the state Congress president once more in 2018 because the occasion lay battered and bruised by infighting and a string of defections by its leaders to the TMC. He was one of many chief architects of Left Entrance-Congress alliance in West Bengal in the course of the 2016 meeting polls.
Somen Mitra was eager on having an alliance with the Left additionally for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, however that would not materialise, and the 2 events bought drubbed. Along with his impeccable expertise of persuasion, Somen Mitra managed to convey the 2 events collectively once more after the elections.
Somen Mitra and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Congress occasion’s present chief within the Lok Sabha, by no means favoured a rapprochement with the TMC as they felt it lacked credibility as a secular occasion, and held it accountable for the exceptional development of the BJP within the state the place it was hardly a drive to reckon with a number of years in the past.