Sonia greets 'ousted' Somnath on birthday

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{image-somnatha speaker_25072008.jpg}New Delhi, Jul 25: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who was expelled from the Communist Party of India-Marxist CPI (M) a couple of days ago, turned 79 on Friday, July 25.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi personally visited Somnath to congratulate him on his 80th birthday, while Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh conveyed his birthday wishes with a bouquet. Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi also greeted him on the occasion at his official residence. On July 23, the CPM had expelled Somnath for refusing to follow the party's demand for his resignation.

The Speaker had been under pressure to quit the Constitutional post after the Left withdrew support to the UPA Government over the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

However, Chatterjee refused to toe the party line and chaired the House during the Special session on July 21 and 22, when the Government won the confidence vote. The veteran parliamentarian, who has won for a record ten times, has been associated with the CPM since 1968. Presently representing Bolpur, he was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1971 and was awarded the "Outstanding Parliamentarian Award" in 1996.


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