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Bhubaneswar: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik today expressed condolences over the demise of eminent socialist leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray.

"Rabi Rayji was like a guardian to me. His demise is a great loss to Indian politics and his contribution to the socialist movement will be remembered forever. I have learnt a lot from him," Kumar said after paying floral tribute to the leader's mortal remains at Lohia bhavan here.

Kumar is the lone chief minister to have gone to Odisha to pay his last respects to the departed leader.

"Rayji's contribution in the formation of Samata Party in 1994 will be remembered by all besides his role as Speaker of the Lok Sabha," the Bihar CM said.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, who is scheduled to attend the funeral said, "It is a great loss for the state as well as for the country."

Meanwhile, Odisha is observing one-day state mourning in honour of Ray today.

The national flag was flown at half-mast across all government buildings. People from all walks of life including ministers, politicians paid their last respects at Lohia Bhavan.

Ray breathed his last yesterday while undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack.

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