26 July, 2021

Mediator Extraordinaire

Somnath Chatterjee is the man who's done the impossible—brought Sonia and Mulayam together

Indian Express
Mediator Extraordinaire
CPI(M) leader Somnath Chatterjee, he of the gravelly baritone and heavy jowls, feared for his pugnacious wit and incisive interventions in the Lok Sabha, is nobody's idea of an ace mediator. Yet, in three one-to-one meetings with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he pulled off the political coup of the year, bringing about a public rapprochement between Sonia and the man who had famously frustrated her bid for prime ministership, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav. Twice in a fortnight, Mulayam and Sonia were photographed hobnobbing together at social events, under the smiling aegis of the CPI(M) stalwart.

It all started with the veteran parliamentarian dropping in at Sonia's office in Parliament one evening during the monsoon session, to explain why he could not attend her tea-party for Opposition leaders scheduled for 5 pm that day. The following day's papers would report the tea-party as a flop with the Opposition cold-shouldering Sonia, but the pre-tea meeting was to have a long-term fallout. Impressed with his courtesy and gentleman-like attitude, Sonia invited...

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