Chandan Mitra, The Pioneer Man, Who Covered Politics With Vigour and Then Became Part of It


Chandan Mitra, the former Parliamentarian and renowned journalist passed away at the age of 66. Mitra was educated from the LaMartiniere Calcutta and was awarded Gold Medal there in 1971. He was a batchmate of Swapan Dasgupta and Prannoy Guha Thakurta. From there they went together to St Stephens College, Delhi.

Today, Swapan Dasgupta posted their school days photograph and tweeted: “I lost my closest friend—editor of Pioneer & former MP Chandan Mitra—this morning. We were together as students of La Martiniere & went on to St Stephen’s & Oxford. We joined journalism at the same time & shared the excitement of Ayodhya & the saffron wave. I am posting a photograph of Chandan Mitra and me together during a school trip in 1972. Be happy my dear friend wherever you are. Om Shanti.”

Columnist Bachi Karkaria speaking to News18 said: “This is terrible news and I remember that time when I was in Statesman, both Swapan Dasgupta and Chandan Mitra were there. He used to tease me about being a pothole/gutter journalist because I wrote on local issues instead of lofty politics. And I would respond by pointing out the more immediate and visible impact of my detailed city features. I use to tell him Metro Railways have changed alignment for my story but President Ronald Reagan has not changed his policy after your story.”

His colleagues and juniors all have pointed that he was out and out a political journalist who used to lead and support his team in every way during elections. 

Noted journalist Nirupama Subramaniam, who worked with him in Sunday Observer, remembers, “It was great fun to work with him. He was an out and out political animal and we learnt a lot about how to cover politics from him. Elections were a high point for all of us and Chandan was the first editor I know who also became an out-and-out reporter when it comes to reporting elections. I remember travelling with him in the MP election in 1991. He was happy to take along anybody in the team who wanted to join him in election reporting.”

That is how Chandan was seen among his colleagues and juniors in journalism.

In 1984, he was awarded a Doctorate from Oxford University for his thesis on ‘Political Mobilisation and Nationalism movement in India’.

Mitra started his career as Statesman as an Assistant Editor and then joined the Times of India in Delhi. Mitra was known as the Pioneer person because he eventually bought control of that newspaper from the Thapar family.

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 LK Advani.

He contested in 2014 from Hooghly Lok Sabha seat but was defeated. In 2018, he joined TMC.

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