BHUBANESWAR: Senior Congress leader and former minister Nalinikanta Mohanty passed away here on Friday after a prolonged illness. He was 63.
The end came at about 2.30 pm in a private hospital here. Mohanty had suffered a cardiac arrest followed by a stroke on October 10 last year and had been lying comatose. Later, he was shifted to AIIMS, New Delhi, but his condition did not improve. He was brought back to Bhubaneswar where he was admitted to SUM Hospital. Doctors said Mohanty succumbed to multi-organ failure. He is survived by wife, a son and a daughter.
A very popular leader from Kendrapara, Mohanty was elected to the Assembly a record seven times on the trot from Rajnagar constituency. Active in student politics since 1969, he began his early years as secretary of the Lok Dal’s State unit.
He was elected to the Assembly for the first time in 1977 as a Janata Party candidate. In 1980, he was re-elected as a Lok Dal member. In 1985, Mohanty was elected to the Assembly again, but this time as a Janata Party candidate.
When he went on to be a confidant of legendary Biju Patnaik, Mohanty was a Janata Dal MLA from Rajnagar. During 1990-95 when Biju was the chief minister, Mohanty held important portfolios like Works and, Housing and Urban Development. Mohanty along with Bijay Mohapatra and Srikant Jena formed a triumvirate then.
After Biju’s death when the BJD took birth, he was one of the main architects. He was nominated as the working president of the BJD during the 2000 general elections. He was also Works minister in Naveen Patnaik’s first term as Chief Minister.
However, things went wrong a year later and the BJD chief dropped him from the Cabinet in 2001. A hurt Mohanty resigned from the post of working president.
During the next election in 2004, when he was denied a party ticket by the BJD, Mohanty, an anti-Congress leader all his life, decided to switch loyalties to the national party. He won the election as a Congress candidate in 2004, but suffered his first electoral defeat in 2009.
Governor Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare expressed deep grief while Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik paid floral tributes to Mohanty.
His mortal remains were brought to the Assembly and then to Congress Bhawan before being taken to his Sahid Nagar residence. Later, his body was taken to Rajnagar.