Former Bengal speaker H.A. Halim dead

Kolkata, Nov 2 (IANS) Former West Bengal Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim died on Monday at a nursing home here, family sources said.

Halim, 80, who presided over the West Bengal assembly for a record 29 years from 1982 to 2011, was rushed to a city nursing home in the morning following respiratory problems.

“He was declared dead around 10 a.m.,” said a family member.

Halim was a noted lawyer, served as the state’s law and justice minister from 1977 to 1982, and was a prominent leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

People cutting across political lines, including Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee, paid tributes to the longest-serving speaker of any legislative assembly in the country.

“Deepest condolences to the family of long-serving former speaker of West Bengal assembly Hashim Abdul Halim,” the chief minister tweeted.

Trinamool secretary general and state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said: “He had a very deep sense of humour and would often use his wit and sarcasm to diffuse tension in the house. I would also remember him more for his attempt to facilitate dialogue to solve the Singur issue.”

“He constantly urged Mamata Banerjee and then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to sit for a dialogue to solve the Singur issue,” he added.

“As a speaker, one needs to take stern steps at times to run the house and he was never shy of taking such steps irrespective of whether some liked it or not,” said Bengal Speaker Biman Banerjee.

Leader of Opposition in the assembly and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said Halim’s passing away was great loss to all those who are fighting for parliamentary democracy.

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