New Delhi: There's an air of the headmaster about him but Somnath Chatterjee may be the one of the best copybook Speakers the country has had.
Well-versed in parliamentary proceedings, Chatterjee has been a Member of Parliament for more than four decades.
An enigmatic Communist juggling between a hugely successful legal practice and his passion for parliamentary politics, Somnath replaced the late Jyotirmoy Basu as the leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist in Lok Sabha.
But the Marxists who considered him indispensable in Parliament did not let him rise in the party hierarchy.
He never became a member of the Politburo and he was also made a member of the party's Central Committee quite late in his career.
But he was always former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu's favourite. So when Basu wanted to revive Bengal's industries, he made Chatterjee the chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.
Like Basu, Chatterjee believes that a communal BJP is a much bigger enemy.
Chatterjee may be the first Communist to have ever held a constitutional post, but his father NC Chatterjee, was a founder-leader of the Hindu Mahasabha.
(With inputs from Diptosh Majumdar and Marya Shakil)