Former Odisha chief minister J B Patnaik passes away

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Bhubaneswar: 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.

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