Gyan Singh Sohanpal, ‘Chacha’ of Bengal politics, dead

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Kolkata, Aug 8 (IANS) Former West Bengal Minister, freedom fighter and ten-time legislator Gyan Singh Sohanpal, one of the most respected politicians in the state, died at the state-run SSKM hospital on Tuesday following old-age problems. He was 92.

Fondly called ‘Chacha’ (uncle) by all, Sohanpal began his long march in public life by joining the Congress during the 1942 Quit India movement, and was the oldest candidate in fray during last year’s assembly polls.

Making his maiden entry into the state assembly in 1969 from the Kharagpur constituency in then Midnapore district, Sohanpal kept the Congress flag high in the cosmopolitan seat on nine more occasions.

Between 1972 and 1977, he served as Transport Minister during the Chief Ministerial stint of Siddhartha Shankar Ray.

However, he lost in 1977, when the Left Front swept to power in the state.

But Sohanpal returned to his winning ways in 1982, and went on repeating the feat till he lost out to BJP’s Dilip Ghosh last year.

He remained a bachelor.

Known for his honesty, frugal living and amicable behaviour, such was Sohanpal’s acceptability, that even his rivals refrained from attacking him personally during election campaigns.

Expressing grief at Sohanpal’s demise, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the state government would give him a gun salute during his last rites on Wednesday.

“Saddened at the passing of Gyan Singh Sohan Pal ji. We have lost a veteran legislator. My condolences to his family & friends,” Banerjee wrote on Twitter.

“He was a very senior member of the West Bengal Assembly. Tomorrow, the Govt will give his mortal remains a gun salute,” she added.

Former state Congress chief and Sohanpal’s ministerial colleague Pradip Bhattacharya expressed shock over his death.

“He was a thorough gentleman. He performed very well as the Transport Minister. He had deep connect with the masses, and his doors were open for them all the time even during his days as a minister.

“He never let the tag of minister affect his humility. He met everybody,” Bhattacharya told IANS.

–IANS

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