Three-time Odisha chief minister and octogenarian Congress leader Janaki Ballabh Patnaik died in Tirupati early this morning. He was 89 and is survived by his wife Jayanti, son Pruthvi Ballav and two daughters Sudatta and Supriya.
According to family sources, Patnaik had gone to the holy city in Andhra Pradesh yesterday in a special flight to attend the convocation of Rashtriya Sanskrit University as the chief guest. He was the varsity’s chancellor.
However, Patnaik complained of chest pain around midnight and was admitted to a hospital there. But he could not be saved and he breathed his last at 3 am following a cardiac arrest.
His mortal remains were flown to Bhubaneswar this afternoon and his last rites will be done in Puri, informed his son-in-law Soumya Ranjan Patnaik.
Odisha governor S.C. Jamir and chief minister Naveen Patnaik condoled the death of the veteran leader. The chief minister cancelled all his Akshay Trutiya programmes scheduled for the day.
Officials said the State government announced holiday today as a mark of respect to the departed leader while a week-long State mourning has also been declared.
A pall of gloom descended in the party circles with senior leaders like Hemanand Biswal, Narasingh Mishra and Bhakta Charan Das mourning his demise.
A great devotee of Lord Jagannath, Patnaik had chanted “Vishnu Sahasranam” while having darshan of Lord Balaji at Tirupati temple hours before he breathed his last at Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences.
“While visiting Tirupati temple last evening, my father was chanting Vishnu Sahasranam on his own and had a darshan of the Lord. He is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu,” his elder daughter Dr Sudatta Patnaik said.
Stating that all his parameters were perfect barely three days ago, Sudatta said her father had a thorough health check-up at a reputed hospital here before going to Tirupati. “However, he was complaining of breathing problems since some time,” she said.
He passed away all of a sudden a few hours after he offered prayers at Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala. After returning from the temple, he had discussion with Sanskrit scholars on the Jagannath cult, Sudatta said.
Members of People’s Forum for Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Sambalpur have decided to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani over the State Government’s proposal to establish the proposed top B-school in Sambalpur.
Earlier, the State Government had recommended setting up the proposed IIM in Sambalpur city subject to relaxation in the Central guideline. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in a letter to Irani, had said that the Centre had asked State Government for its opinion in setting up the IIM in Western Odisha, particularly in Sambalpur region. The HRD Ministry asked the State Government to identify a location close to an airport. Hence, the State Government had restricted its choice to sites in and around Bhubaneswar. “However, if the Centre is willing to relax this guideline for site selection, the Odisha Government would strongly recommend Sambalpur as the location of the IIM,” Naveen wrote in his letter.
Speaking to mediapersons on Saturday, convener of the organisation, Sapan Mishra said they have sought an audience with the Prime Minister and Union HRD Minister in the last week of this month over the issue. He said a clear picture on IIM location in Odisha is yet to emerge.
“The Union HRD Minister has agreed to set up the IIM at Sambalpur provided the Odisha Government submits a formal proposal,” Mishra said, adding that they will inquire about the delay over the issue from the Union Minister.
Former vice-chancellor of Berhampur University, Aditya Padhi said the Chief Minister had himself said at the meeting of National Development Council recently that national institutes should be set up in backward areas of the State.
For Janma Padhan (70) of Tabloi village in Deogaon gram panchayat in Maneswar block of the district, electricity was a facility meant only for people in towns and cities. So, when power supply was provided to her village on March 31, she stayed awake the whole night gazing at her house glowing in the light of the solitary bulb.
Her village, located about 50 kms from Sambalpur city, is cut off from the mainstream and bereft of all facilities. Though solar lights were provided to the village under Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for Left Wing affected areas, electricity was extended on the intervention of Collector Balwant Singh. Singh, who came across the village during a review of development projects in Maneswar block in February, ensured its development in three months.
The grid connection to the village was dedicated by Rairakhol MLA Rohit Pujari in presence of Collector, Sambalpur SP Akhilesvar Singh and DFO, Sambalpur Santosh Joshi.
The village, known for Maoist activities till some time back, is nestled in the hills of Badpati, Jamkhulia, Satpardia, Guja and Mahulkhulia. While electricity has reached the village, a lot more needs to be done to improve the living conditions of the villagers. The inhospitable terrain is a major challenge before the district administration.
To reach the village, one has to walk 15 kms through the narrow, dusty and bumpy forest road and cross a nullah. A little further, there is a big dry patch of land where villagers gather to celebrate functions. However, plans are afoot to improve the road and Maneswar BDO Pankaj Pradhan has been directed by the Collector to provide rice and pension to the villagers. The dense green cover prevents the villagers from venturing beyond the village limits to avail the benefits of Government schemes.
And they have their reasons. Forest Ranger Aswini Kumar Padhi said five wild bears had climbed upon his vehicle during one of his visits to the forested areas near the village.
The village is home to about 50 tribal and dalit families who depend on minor forest produce like Mahua flowers and agriculture for livelihood. While the only water body in the village is filled with silt, the recent digging of three tubewells takes care of the water needs though they depend on Dhama PHC for health care.
The village has a primary school and those interested to pursue high school have to travel 10 kms to either Keuntipali or Badmal through the forested road.
Villagers, now, hope other development works too would be taken up by the district administration at the earliest.
Former minister and senior BJP leader Jayanarayan Mishra was arrested here on Wednesday for allegedly wielding a sword in violation of prohibitory orders by the administration during Hanuman Jayanti celebrations.
Two separate FIRs were registered against Mishra at Dhanupalli and Town police stations for wielding sword during the procession here on Tuesday.
Mishra’s action amounted to violation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC, which had been imposed by the district administration as a precautionary measure to ensure peaceful celebration of Hanuman Jayanti, police said.
Mishra, who was picked up from his party office here, however, claimed that he had not done anything “wrong” and his arrest was part of a “political conspiracy.” Mishra was sent to jail after his bail plea was rejected by the Court of SDJM.
The District BJP and Hanuman Jayanti Samanwaya Samiti (HJSS) called for 12-hour Sambalpur bandh on Thursday protesting against Mishra’s arrest and police action.
Mishra has been accused of wielding sword thrice, once near Hanuman Temple at Brooks Hill, then near Zilla School Chowk and finally when the procession reached Peer Baba Chowk late in the night.
Police picked up Mishra from the District BJP office on Wednesday and immediately shifted him to Sambalpur Sadar Police Station.
Later, they brought him to the court amidst high drama with BJP workers blocking the police vehicle.
Condemning the arrest, senior BJP leader Suresh Pujari said since the matter is sub judice, let law take its own course. But Section 144 A of CrPC was enacted in 2005 and denotified in 2006 and hence not in existence, he observed. He said that under the circumstances, the entire procedure of promulgation of Section 144 A CrPC is null and void.