Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to attend last rites of Rabi Ray today

Bhubaneswar: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar  among other leaders of Odisha will attend the last rites of eminent socialist leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray and his ancestral village Bhanragada in Puri district in the afternoon today.

Odisha is observing one-day state mourning in his honour.The National Flag was flown at half-mast across all government buildings for the day. People from all sections are paying last respect to the departed soul at Lohia Academy here.

Ray, who breathed his last while undergoing treatment at SCB medical college and hospital in Cuttack, and is survived by his wife Dr Saraswati Swain. He was 91.

Born on November 26, 1926 in Puri district, Rabi Ray obtained his BA degree from Ravenshaw College and LLB degree from M S Law College in Cuttack city. His political career began from Cuttack when he became President of students union of both these famous institutions in late 40 s. The socialist leader was loved and respected by leaders cutting across party lines.

Love for the country and deep-rooted patriotism drove him to participate in unfurling the Tricolour on the majestic building Ravenshaw College early in 1947 for which he courted arrest and went to jail as a student.

Inspired by Rammohan Lohia, he founded Socialist Party in Odisha in 1956 and later went on to become the national secretary of the Party in 1960.

He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1967 from Puri parliamentary constituency and was the leader of Samyukta Socialist Party in the Lok Sabha.

In 1974, he was elected to Rajya Sabha from the State and was made a cabinet minister in 1977 by the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai when Ray was functioning as one of the secretaries of Janata Party.

However in 1989, when Rabi Ray was elected to the 9th Lok Sabha on a Janata Dal ticket from Kendrapara constituency, amid political uncertainty, he was unanimously elected as the Speaker to preside over one of the tumultuous House as Lok Sabha had witnessed Hung Parliament for the first time.

Besides his notable political contributions, Ray was also actively associated with several sociocultural organisations including Lohia Academy and Gram Vikash Foundation till he was indisposed due to old age.

A true socialist by nature, Rabi Ray has also contributed immensely to the field of literature.