Last rites of Sriballav Panigrahi tomorrow

Bhubaneswar: Last rites of former minister and senior Congress leader Sriballav Panigrahi, who passed away in Bengaluru yesterday, will be conducted tomorrow at his home town Sambalpur. Panigrahi’s mortal remains were flown to Bhubaneswar today and kept at Congress Bhawan for paying last respect to the departed soul.

Notably, Panigrahi passed away yesterday morning at Bengaluru. Panigrahi was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Bengaluru and breathed his last at around 8:00 am, informed Panigrahi’s sister and legislator Raseswari Panigrahi. He was 74 and had taken ill since past one week.

Born on September 19, 1940 at Baragaon in Sambalpur district, Panigrahi hailed from a family of freedom fighters and showed active interest in Politics since his student days. He joined the Congress party while he was a student and in the year 1967 he was elected the Congress’s district president of Sambalpur. At a tender age of 27 he was the youngest member to become party’s president of a district. Panigrahi was elected to the legislative assembly twice from the Sambalpur Assembly constituency in 1971 and 1974.

In 1973, the then chief minister Nandini Satapathy appointed him as the cabinet minister and at the age of 33 he was the youngest cabinet minister in the country at that point in time. Between 1973 and 1977 he was in charge of Revenue, Irrigation & Energy, Law, Education, Parliamentary Affairs, Food & Supplies, and Commerce ministries.

Panigrahi was also elected to the Lok Sabha thrice from the Deogarh Parliamentry constituency in the years 1984, 1991and 1996. Given his performance and track record he was appointed as the Chairman of the Petroleum and Chemical Parliamentary Standing Committee in the year 1993.

Panigrahi also played a key role in establishing Mahanadi Coal Fields in Sambalpur and setting up of a rail division.

He also held key positions within the Congress Party during his political career. He was the general secretary of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) from 1969 till 1974 and 1977 till 1980. Similarly, from 1992 till 1995 he was the vice president of OPCC. Moreover, he was appointed as the election observer in various states by the All India Congress Committee.

Meanwhile, senior BJD leader and Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda has expressed his deepest condolence over Panigrahi’s demise.