BHUBANESWAR: Veteran litterateur, freedom fighter and former Odisha minister Nityananda Mohapatra died here on Tuesday. He was just three months short of his 100th birthday.
Born in 1912, Nityananda is survived by a son. His wife Harapriya Mohapatra had pre-deceased him about five years ago. He was admitted to a private hospital here two days back and breathed his last in the morning.
He was minister for Cultural Affairs and Food and Civil Supplies in the Swatantra-Jana Congress coalition government, headed by RN Singhdeo, during 1967-71. Nityananda was a three-time MLA from Bhadrak Assembly constituency __ twice as Independent and once as Jana Congress candidate.
Nityananda received the Orissa Sahitya Akademi Award in 1974 and the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi Award in 1987 for his novel ‘Gharadiha’. His other books include ‘Bhangahada’, ‘Nahonm Tistami Baikunthe’, ‘Kalagara Dharagara’ and ‘Priya O Priyatama’.
He had also penned the famous flag-song for State unit of CPI “aei lal patakara tale...” (under this red flag...) while being lodged in Berhampur jail and the song is still in vogue.
Nityananda was imprisoned three times by the British between 1930 and 1942 for nationalist activities. He came to literary prominence as editor of Odia magazine Dagara, and as a short-story writer after Independence.
He was eldest son of celebrated Odia poet ‘Kantakabi’ Laxmikanta Mohapatra.
As the news his death spread, several dignitaries and admirers visited his residence in Kharavela Nagar here. He would be cremated at ‘Swarg Dwar’ in Puri. Mourning him, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said Odisha lost a towering personality.