Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Veteran BJD leader and 10-time MLA V Sugnana Kumari Deo, who belonged to the royal family of Khallikote, passed away while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Chennai on Saturday. She was 87. 

She breathed her last at the hospital at 12.44 am.

Deo was first elected to the Odisha Assembly in 1963 and has won a total of 10 times in her political career from Khallikote and Kabisuryanagar constituencies. She belongs to the royal family of Khallikote. She has a special identity and honour as the queen of Khallikote. She was an eight time MLA from Khallikote and two times MLA from Kabisuryanagar.

Soon after the news of her illness broke, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had rushed to a private hospital in Chennai and inquired about her health condition on Friday. Political fraternity in Odisha has expressed their deepest condolences on the sad demise of Deo.

Apart from a politician, Deo has also a special identity as a social worker. She was born in Chennai in August 5, 1937. Her father’s name was King R V M Miladri Deo and her husband was Purnachandra Mardaraj Deo. She was elected as MLA in 1963, 1974, 1977, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

Deo was first elected to the State Assembly in 1963 on Congress ticket. She won the election and became MLA again from 1974-1977 as an Utkal Congress leader. She became the MLA of Khallikote for the third time from 1977-1980 with ticket from Janata Dal. She became a member of the Legislative Assembly for the fourth time with the same party from 1985-1990. She was elected from Khallikote for the fifth time in 1990-95. She also won the subsequent election from Janta Dal in 1995-2000. She was elected for two terms from 2009-2014 and 2014-2019 from Kabisuryanagar on BJD tickets.

Deo was also the member of various committees of Odisha Legislative Assembly. Though she was a 10 times MLA, she never expressed her desire to be a minister.

Condolences poured in from all quarters following the demise of Deo, one of the longest-serving MLAs.

“I am deeply saddened to know about the sad demise of renowned politician, former MLA and Khallikote queen V Sugnana Kumari Deo. She was a very popular figure in Odisha. With her demise, Odisha lost an outspoken leader. Her contribution to the society as a people’s representative in the State politics will always be remembered. May her soul rest in peace! I also extend my sympathy to the bereaved family members. Om Shanti,” wrote Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on social media account X (earlier known as Twitter).

“Rani Sugnana Devi was that rare person who was never tempted by power and pelf. She represented Khalikote and Kabisuryanagar for ten terms as an MLA in the Odisha Assembly to better her people’s lives, but repeatedly turned down offers of ministerships and more. Her people adored her, colleagues respected and feared her. She was a role model, was always very kind to me, & encouraged & reassured me during my difficult times. Om Shanti,” tweeted BJP National Vice-President Baijayant Panda.