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इंडियन आवाज़     19 Sep 2021 05:29:40      انڈین آواز

Former MP and senior journalist Chandan Mitra passes away



Former Rajya Sabha MP and senior journalist Chandan Mitra passed away late last night in Delhi. He was 65.

Mitra is survived by wife, Shobori Ganguli, two sons—Kushan Mitra and Shakya Mitra —- and an extended family of colleagues and loved ones.

Dr. Mitra, 66, passed away late Wednesday night. He has been keeping unwell for the last one year .

Dr. Mitra was a man of many seasons. A two-time member of Rajya Sabha, an avid reader, a movie buff, a passionate traveller, and, above all, an editor with a sharp political mind and ears on the ground.

Dr Mitra is an alumni of La Martiniere Calcutta. From there, he went to St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, where he was highly active in left-wing students politics. Mitra received an MA and M.Phil in History at Delhi University and briefly taught at Hansraj College.

In 1984, Mitra received a doctorate at Oxford University, where he was a member of Magdalen College. The subject of the thesis was “Political mobilisation and the nationalism movement in India – a study of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, 1936-1942”.

Mitra’s baptism in journalism started as an Assistant Editor with The Statesman in Kolkata. Then he shifted to the Times of India in Delhi and then to Sunday Observer. He was the Executive Editor of the Hindustan times before he joined The Pioneer in 1997.

Dr Mitra is one of the few journalists who accepted the challenges of running a newspaper as owners, too. When Thapars handed him over The Pioneer in 1998, there was all-around skepticism about Dr. Mitra’s ability to save the newspaper from going bust. Thapars had sunk in a fortune in the newspaper and left behind a rudderless organisation. Dr. Mitra understood the enormity of his challenge and convened a meeting of the staff where he told them that the future looked uncertain and people were free to stay on if they were ready to go without salary for months. It was a frank admission by a man who had little knowledge of managing a business enterprise.

In the years to come, Dr. Mitra presided over the turn-around of The Pioneer and transformed it into a newspaper which grew leaps and bounds, from two editions in 1995 to eight editions now. He also introduced the Hindi Pioneer five years back despite the emergence of new challenges for the print media.

Dr. Mitra was gifted with a sharp political mind. He had his pulse on Indian politics like not many can claim to possess. In the 1995 Bihar assembly polls when everyone was busy writing off Lalu prasad Yadav, Dr. Mitra predicted a landslide for the Yadava supremo. The poll outcome and his projections matched nearly seat to seat. Even now, journalists and politicians in Bihar remember Dr Mitra for that bold “against-the-current “swim.”

His passion for politics and his affable ways won him many friends and admirers across party lines. In BJP, both former Prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and veteran LK Advani were very fond of him. That proximity saw him being drawn to active politics. He was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha in August 2003 when Vajpayee was the PM. He was elected to another term in the Rajya Sabha, as a BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh in June 2010. He did join the Trinamool Congress in 2018, but that association never went beyond a mere formality.

Despite the enormous challenges of running an organisation with falling revenue, and keeping himself afloat in the cut-throat world of politics, Dr. Mitra remained a “ soft and sensitive” gentleman, who would never give the impression that he was “ your boss.” In fact, to many of us, who shared with him a long association going into the late 1990s, he was a friend, a mentor, and someone you could sit down with and share your most personal thoughts and dilemma.

Mitra was a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha from August 2003 to 2009. In June 2010, BJP got him elected to the upper house from Madhya Pradesh. His term ended in 2016. He was a close aide of party veteran L K Advani, but was sidelined by the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah leadership.

In July 2018, Mitra, Editor and Managing Director of The Pioneer, resigned from the BJP and joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to condole Mitra’s demise. “Shri Chandan Mitra Ji will be remembered for his intellect and insights. He distinguished himself in the world of media as well as politics. Anguished by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” the prime minister tweeted.

Capt.Amarinder Singh@capt_amarinder· Saddened to know about the passing away of senior journalist & former Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra ji. I fondly remember my old association with him. May Almighty grant strength to the family to bear this irreparable loss and grant eternal peace to the departed soul.

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