Sriballav Panigrahi cremated at Rajghat

Sambalpur: Hundreds of people bid a tearful adieu when the mortal remains of veteran Congress leader, former State minister and member of Parliament Sriballav Panigrahi was consigned to flames at Rajghat here with full State honours.

The funeral pyre was lit by his eldest son. Congress leaders Prasad Harichandan, Niranjan Patnaik and other political leaders and workers were present on the occasion.

Panigrahi passed away in Bengaluru while undergoing treatment at a private hospital there. He breathed his last around 8 am on July 9. 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 Congress while he was a student and elected party’s Sambalpur district president in 1967. 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 Sambalpur Assembly segment in 1971 and 1974. He was appointed as a Cabinet minister in 1973 by then chief minister Nandini Satapathy at the age of 33. He was the youngest Cabinet minister in the country at that point in time.

Between 1973 and 1977, he held Revenue, Irrigation & Energy, Law, Education, Parliamentary Affairs, Food and Supplies, and Commerce portfolios. Panigrahi was also elected to Lok Sabha thrice from the Deogarh constituency in 1984, 1991 and 1996.

Given his track record, he was appointed as the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum and Chemicals in 1993. Panigrahi also played a key role in establishing headquarters of Mahanadi Coal Fields in Sambalpur and setting up of a rail division.

He also held key positions within Congress during his political career. He was party’s State general secretary from 1969 till 1974 and 1977 till 1980. Similarly, he was its vice-president from 1992 till 1995.