Former Rajya Sabha member and Senior Journalist Chandan Mitra Passes Away

PM Modi took to Twitter, saying Chandan Mitra had distinguished himself in the world of media as well as politics.

3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Former Rajya Sabha member and senior journalist Chandan Mitra passed away late on Wednesday, 1 September, in Delhi.</p></div>

Former Rajya Sabha member and senior journalist Chandan Mitra passed away late on the night of Wednesday, 1 September, in Delhi, his son Kushan Mitra confirmed on the morning of Thursday, 2 September. He was 66 years old.

Mitra was the editor and managing director of The Pioneer. He resigned from the paper in June this year.


'Pioneer'-ing Journalist With Strong Political Affiliations

Born in West Bengal's Howrah district, Mitra did his schooling from the famed La Martiniere School for Boys in Kolkata, before going on to get an undergraduate degree from Delhi's St Stephen's College and thereafter a master's degree from the University of Oxford. He also had a brief stint as a teacher at Delhi University's Hansraj College before he went to Oxford.

He started his career as a journalist with The Statesman, before moving to The Times of India. He then joined The Sunday Observer, where he eventually became editor and thereafter joined Hindustan Times, where he was made executive editor.

In the late 1980s he joined The Pioneer and then bought control of the paper from the Thapar family in 1998. He is said to have revived the paper, which was undergoing massive losses at the time.

Mitra was elected member of Rajya Sabha twice – first between 2003 and 2008 as a nominated member, and thereafter in 2010 when he was elected to the upper house as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member. He also contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Bengal's Hooghly on a BJP ticket but was unsuccessful in winning his seat.

In 2018, however, Mitra moved from the BJP to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), West Bengal's ruling party, led by Mamata Banerjee.

“I want to do something constructive for Bengal,” Mitra had said at the time, according to a report by Scroll. "The Trinamool is the best vehicle for that. Mamata Banerjee is Bengal’s best option. No one can challenge her in the near future," he'd added.

Mitra's support for the TMC was seen as a diametric shift from his earlier position regarding the party when he had publicly said that Banerjee was trying to "stop a saffron surge" in West Bengal.

In the same interview, he had also said that he "never believed in 100 percent Hindutva", but "has always been a nationalist".

In spite of his strong political affiliations, Mitra was seen as one of the (last) few politicians who had amicable relations with leaders across the party lines. He will be remembered for his sophisticated writing and speeches, and as many have pointed out, his vast knowledge of Hindi film music, which was often revealed in his editorial pieces.

Condolences Pour In

Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta also confirmed the news and posted a photograph of himself with Mitra from 1972, with whom he studied in school as well as St Stephen's.

Congress leader and Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor, also tweeted his tribute to Mitra who was his contemporary at St Stephen's. Tharoor said that Mitra was his "campaign manager" during his successful run for student body president while in college.

Soon after the news broke, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too took to Twitter to condole Mitra's demise, saying he had distinguished himself in the world of media as well as politics. President Ram Nath Kovind also condoled his death.

West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee also tweeted her condolences.

Veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta said that Mitra was "among the finest reporter-editors of our generation", who "never let political choices come in the way of professionalism".

Other BJP Union ministers like Piyush Goyal, Anurag Thakur, and Rajnath Singh also tweeted.

Many journalists who had worked with Mitra also recalled their time with him.

(With inputs from Scroll.)

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