Calcutta, Dec. 25: Former Tripura chief minister Nripen Chakraborty, 99, died at the SSKM Hospital here today, two days after being readmitted into the CPM from which he had been expelled in 1995 for violating party discipline, which meant opposing powerful colleagues like Jyoti Basu.
Condoling his death, Bengal CPM secretary Anil Biswas said: 'I went to the hospital on Saturday night and personally informed Nripenda of his readmission into the party. He was very happy (on) learning the party decision.'
Chakraborty, who would have been 100 in April, died around 4.30 am of a massive heart attack. He had been flown here with multiple organ failures on Thursday from Agartala's G.B. Hospital.
In a press communiqu', the CPM politburo, of which Chakraborty was a member till his expulsion, recognised his contribution to the communist movement in Tripura but also mentioned that disciplinary action had to be taken against him.
All politburo members including Basu, with whom Chakraborty had fallen out over corruption in the top echelons among other issues, agreed to the veteran's reinstatement after the Tripura CPM put up a forceful case for his readmission and also pointed to his failing health.
'Comrade Nripen Chakraborty seriously violated the party discipline and so the CPM was forced to expel him from the primary membership of the party. The party had to take this unpleasant decision as nobody is above the party,' the communiqu' said.
'Though he was expelled from the party, considering his long years of service to the communist movement the party decided to readmit him,' the statement added.
Biswas said Chakraborty had to be expelled as he had brought differences of opinion inside the CPM into the open. 'He took the internal differences of the party to the press, thus violating party norms,' he said.
But Biswas said the CPM continued to care for him even after his expulsion. 'He was a party whole-timer and so the party was beside him always, taking care of his food, lodging, treatment and other needs,' he added.
A CPM worker was deputed to look after Chakraborty and would take dictation from him when the veteran could no longer write.
Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, who was mentored by Chakraborty, and other Tripura CPM leaders had been lobbying with the party leadership to readmit the veteran. The late Dasarath Deb and Chakraborty played a big role in the installation, consolidation and expansion of the first Left Front government in Tripura.
Chakraborty's body, covered with the party flag, lay in state at the CPM headquarters at Alimuddin Street today. Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Anil Biswas, Samar Mukherjee, Biman Bose, Benoy Konar and Front leaders like Ashok Ghosh paid homage with raised fists. Non-CPM individuals like filmmaker Mrinal Sen also visited the party office to pay their respects.
Chakraborty's body was later flown to Tripura where the last rites will be performed tomorrow.
Congress rival and former Tripura chief minister Samir Ranjan Burman reacted to the news of the death by saying: 'Politics apart, he set an example for us all with his all-sacrificing personal life. I salute him with my head and heart.'