Kendrapara: With the demise of noted socialist leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray, the people of Kendrapara district in Odisha today recalled that the person used even repsond to letters posted to him in postcards.
Ray, who rose to become the Speaker of the 9th Lok Sabha, was elected from Kendrapara in the 1989 general elections and was re-lected from the same seat in 1991.
Recalling the inherent simplicity of Ray, Rabi Samal of Shyamsunderpur village said “Whenever Ray visited the constituency, he used to ask people to write to him personally on postcards highlighting their grievances.”
Ray used to reply to each of the letters posted to him despite his busy schedule as Lok Sabha Speaker, Samal said adding, “I had written about three letters to Rayji and sought his intervention on water-logging issue and canal water not reaching the end of the village. And each of them was promptly replied by him.”
His timely intervention also solved the canal water problem in Shaymsunderpur village. He was a grassroots leader and knew of the pulse of socio-economic problems of the agriculture belt like Kendrapara, Samal said.
“I was a 26-year-old unemployed youth in 1990 when Ray was officiating as the Lok Sabha Speaker. I was cheated by a private scooter manufacturing company. I wrote to Ray on a post card. Within a fortnight, the scooter manufacturing company officials knocked on my doors. They paid me a Rs 500 cheque that I had deposited with the company for buying the scooter,” said a forest officer, Girish Chandra Adhikari.
Stating that he had lost hope of getting back the money, Aduikari said the scooter company was forced to pay him back.
“For me, Ray is a rare breed of leaders who had rapport with common people,” he said.A former associate of Ray and former chairman of Kendrapara municipality, Bijoy Krushna Sahu said it was a pride for the voters of Kendrapara when they found their MP becoming the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Ray was instrumental in the establishment of HRD Ministry-run Jawahar Navodyaya Vidyalaya and the Centre-run Krushi Vigyan Kendra in Kendrapara, he recalled.
People from all walks of life regardless of political affiliation mourned the death of Ray.
“Ray’s amiable and cordial traits in character and down-to-earth lifestyle had endeared him for all. He was a people’s leader in true sense. His demise has created a void in public life,” described former Kendrapara Lok Sabha member Pravat Kumar Samantray.
“His greatest virtue lies in the fact that he used to come forward to help people regardless of political affiliation,” Samantray added.