Mrunal Manmay Dash

When Damodar Rout passed away on Friday morning following a cardiac arrest, condolences poured in from his colleagues and supporters cutting across party lines. While some described his death as the end of a long political chapter of Odisha, his children were proud of him.

A seven-time MLA, Damodar Rout was first elected to the Odisha Assembly on Janata Dal ticket from the Balikuda-Ersama constituency in 1977. He became MLA for the second time by winning the elections in 1980 from Janata Dal Secular. However, the senior leader was defeated in 1995. He then went on to win the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th Assembly elections in 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2014, respectively.

Rout was elected MLA five times from Ersama and twice from Paradip. He also held portfolios as minister of seven departments under late CM Biju Patnaik and CM Naveen Patnaik’s term.

From 1979 to 2017, Rout was entrusted with departments like Information & Public Relations, Community Development & Social Welfare, Panchayati Raj, Women and Child Development, Culture, Agriculture, Fisheries & Animal Resource Development, Health & Family Welfare, MSME, Excise and Public Enterprise in Odisha government.

Rout also worked as a House Committee member for Cyclone/Food and Environment between 2000 & 2001.

However, the veteran leader was expelled from BJD in 2017 and later contested the 2019 elections from Paradip on BJP ticket but lost.

Rout was also known for his incendiary remarks in politics. He seldom minced his words when it came to his rivals. He even had to resign a few times for that.

Damodar Rout was dismissed from the BJD in 2018 Just days after alleging multiple instances of corruption in various departments of the State government. He had created ripples in the political circle by alleging irregularities and scams in the disbursal of Cooperative bank loans, Omfed, distribution of saplings and in the Health department.

Subsequently, Rout joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on March 14, 2019 in Delhi. He was seen attending several programmes of BJP and even campaigned for the saffron party. However, Rout later distanced himself from the BJP and was not seen in enough events owing to health-related and other issues.

Later, his son Sambit Routray joined the BJD and was elected to the Assembly in 2019. Years later in January this year, the BJD revoked Damodar Rout's expulsion order.