Saswat Singhdeo

Boudh: Late Biju Patnaik's driver Prahlad Behera was so adored and left such an impression that he was given an MLA ticket by the former CM to contest from Phulbani Assembly constituency which he went on to win. Though Prahlad's eloquent speech captivated Biju Patnaik and the public alike, his suffering today fails to move a soul as he is living a life in abandonment.

The 83-year-old former MLA of Phulbani is now staying in a kutcha house in Harbhanga area in Boudh district along with his son, the sole caretaker.

“We are receiving Rs 15,000 as pension but the total amount is spent on medicines as he is suffering from paralysis and diabetes. We are in a difficult condition,” said Rudra Pratap Behera, son of Prahlad.

And in such a dire situation, no helping hand has been extended by the government and the administration.

Prahlad, while he was a driver, had driven former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri to Puri in his car during the latter’s visit to Odisha. Later, Biju Patnaik recruited him as his driver. With passing of time, Biju Patnaik became aware of his talents & hunger for staying abreast with politics and public affairs. Biju Patnaik once asked him to address a public gathering and Prahlad seized the opportunity to prove his mettle. Such was his performance that Biju Patnaik urged him to join politics and he contested elections on a Janata Party ticket in the year 1977 from the Phulbani Assembly seat, which he eventually won.

“After knowing about his skills, Biju babu had asked him to contest elections from Phulbani in which he came out with flying colours,” Batakrushna Pradhan, a Harabhanga resident, said.