Rich tributes paid to former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray

Bhubaneswar: Several leaders and many dignitaries on Tuesday paid rich tributes to firebrand socialist and former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray in Odisha.

Ray, 91, died at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack on Monday. He was admitted to the hospital following age-related ailments.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Odisha Governor S.C. Jamir, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi and other leaders paid floral tributes to Ray at the Lohia Academy here.

“I am deeply saddened by Ray’s demise. He was a Gandhian and a great socialist leader. He used to show us path and had a remarkable tenure as the Lok Sabha Speaker. His death is a great loss to Indian politics,” said Nitish Kumar.

Nitish Kumar will attend Ray’s funeral at his village Bhanaragarh in the Puri district.

Paying floral tributes to Ray, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said it was an end of an era in Indian politics.

The Odisha government has declared one-day state mourning on Tuesday in honour of the eminent socialist leader. The national flag has been lowered to half-mast on all government buildings for the day.

Ray will be accorded a state funeral on Tuesday.

Born on November 26, 1926, Ray joined national politics, inspired by the leadership of socialist leader Rammanohar Lohia.

Ray was elected to the fourth Lok Sabha from the Puri constituency in Odisha in 1967. Prime Minister Morarji Desai inducted Ray into his cabinet as Minister for Health and Family Welfare in January 1979 and Ray continued in that post till January 1980.

In 1989, he was re-elected to the 9th Lok Sabha from the Kendrapara constituency in Odisha as a Janata Dal candidate. On December 19, 1989, he was unanimously elected the Speaker of the 9th Lok Sabha. In 1991, he was re-elected to the 10th Lok Sabha from the same constituency.

He graduated in History from Ravenshaw College and later studied law at Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack.