Veteran politician and close associate of Biju Patnaik, Ashwini Samal, died here on Thursday. He was 79 and had been suffering from cancer. He is survived by his wife and five daughters.
Samal was a key associate of Biju Patnaik and held positions in the political outfits from Congress, Utkal Congress, Lok Dal to Janata Dal led by the legendary personality in the State.
During the Janata Dal rule in 1990, he was nominated as the member of Khadi Commission and was instrumental in promoting and popularising Khadi in the Eastern states like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Assam.
After the death of Biju Patnaik, he had joined the BJD, formed by Naveen Patnaik, and functioned as its Cuttack district president. He had stepped down from the position in 2004.
His death has been mourned across the political spectrum. Leaders cutting across party lines including BJP leaders Bijoy Mohapatra, Samir Dey, Nibedita Pradhan, BJD Chief Whip Pravat Tripathy, former MP Narendra Pradhan along with Congress city president Md Mokim, Suresh Mohapatra and Rajendra Prasad Singh visited his house to pay their last respects.
His funeral rites were conducted later in the day.