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Mrunal Manmay Dash

If Odisha has ever produced a fire brand political figure other than Biju Patnaik, it is ought to be Nandini Satapathy, the first ever and only female Chief Minister of Odisha. The state paid its obeisance to the leader on her 91st birth anniversary on Thursday.

A programme was held at her statue near the Raj Bhawan in Bhubaneswar where leaders irrespective of political affiliations congregated to remember her and garland her.

Her son and former Lok Sabha MP, Tathagat Satapathy said, “She would have been 91 today had she been alive. Some of her admirers and followers like us assembled here to commemorate her works as a political leader and the Chief Minister of Odisha.”

“I thank all the people who joined the programme and made it a success,” he added.

Bhubaneswar Mayor Sulochana Das also joined the programme. Speaking to the reporters, Das said, “Nandini Satapathy was the embodiment of women empowerment. She always strived to uplift the poor and make them mix in the mainstream. Her only aim was to take Odisha on the path of development.”

Nandini was born in 1931 to a revolutionary family in Pithapur, Cuttack. She was the eldest daughter of Padmabhushan writer Kalindi Charan Panigrahi and Ratnamani Devi. Not only is she the first and only female Chief Minister, she was also a woman leader, writer and journalist.

She has made significant contributions to Oriya literature, art and culture. Her grandfather Swapneshwar Panigrahi was a freedom fighter. Nandini Satapathy holds a bachelor's degree in Oriya from Ravenshaw College.

She was imprisoned in 1951 for leading the student movement.

Cuttack's daughter Nandini Devi was married to Devendra Satapathy of Dhenkanal. Husband Devendra was twice elected to Lok Sabha from Dhenkanal. They have two sons; the eldest is Nachiketa Satapathy and the younger is Tathagata Satapathy. While Nachiketa is involved in business outside, the younger son Tathagata joined Odisha politics.

During the tenure of late Indira Gandhi, Nandini became the Information and Broadcasting Minister at the Center. Nandini Satapathy has been the Chief Minister of Odisha twice from 1972 to 1973 and 1973-76. She was then elected to the Legislative Assembly as a Janata Dal candidate from Dhenkanal constituency from 1977 to 1980.

She worked for the Utkal Pradesh Congress for some time. She was elected to the Legislative Assembly from 1980-85, 1985-90, and 1990-95. She served as Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Board in 1989 and 1995.

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