BHUBANESWAR/BERHAMPUR: Senior Congress leader and former minister Ramchandra Ulaka died of a heart attack here on Sunday morning. His body was taken to his hometown Rayagada for cremation. Ulaka, 77, complained of breathing problem and was taken to the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar where doctors declared him dead in the wee hours.
But the death turned controversial with the eldest son of his first wife, Shiva Shankar Ulaka filing a complaint with the Rayagada police that he suspects his father to have been murdered. “The mother (second wife) and son duo have killed him for property,” he told mediapersons at Rayagada.
There were discrepancies in timing of his death and the manner in which ‘my father’ was rushed to Rayagada has created suspicion that they are hiding something, he said.
Rayagada DSP V R Rao told this paper that Ulaka’s funeral has been held up because of the complaint.
Police have sought all papers from the Capital Hospital and if necessary, there will be postmortem, Rao said.
With Ulaka’s death, a political career of a prominent tribal leader spanning over more than 40 years came to an end. He was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1962 and has since then never looked back. He represented the Koraput Lok Sabha seat twice and was elected in 1967 also. He was the elder brother of another prominent tribal Congress leader Dambarudhar Ulaka.
Ulaka was elected from Rayagada Assembly constituency seven times from 1974. Born on July 1, 1934, Ulaka had always fought for the rights of the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste people.
He served as minister with important portfolios including forest, power and irrigation, welfare, tribal and rural welfare under different chief ministers.
He was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly from January 24 to May 19, 2009.
Condoling his death, Assam Governor JB Patnaik said Ulaka’s death is a great loss for the people of Odisha, Koraput in particular.
Stating that he was senior associate in his cabinet, Patnaik said he worked for the betterment of the Scheduled Tribe, Scheduled Caste and Backward class people.
Describing him as a politician committed for the welfare of the poor, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said his death has created a void in Odisha politics.
Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh, president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik, president of the Odisha Pradesh Youth Congress (OPYC) Sangram Keshari Jena and several other senior leaders condoled his death.