Anna of Odisha politics Surjya Narayan Patro passes away
The sitting MLA of Digapahandi had never tasted electoral defeat in his more than three-decade-long active political career.
BHUBANESWAR: One of the senior-most BJD leaders and former speaker of the Odisha Legislative Assembly Surjya Narayan Patro passed away at a private hospital here on Saturday. He was 75.
A seven-time MLA, Patro won four times from the Mohana Assembly seat in Gajapati district and thrice from Digapahandi in Ganjam district. The sitting MLA of Digapahandi had never tasted electoral defeat in his more than three-decade-long active political career.
Patro had the unique distinction of being a minister in the Janata Dal government of Biju Patnaik after his first election to the Assembly in 1990. After BJD came to power in 2000, Patro emerged as a constant feature in the Naveen Patnaik cabinet till the 15th Assembly (2014-19).
He held important portfolios like Energy, Revenue and Disaster Management, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare, Cooperation, Forest and Environment, Information Technology and Tourism and Culture. After the 2019 elections, he was elected as speaker of the Assembly and had to leave the post in June last year because of health issues.
A veteran in Ganjam politics, Patro, an advocate by profession, started his political career as a councillor of Berhampur Municipality in 1977. An ardent follower of legendary Biju Patnaik from his student days, Anna (as Patro was fondly called) then took a plunge into electoral politics in 1990 and never looked back. He was elected to the Assembly consecutively for seven times.
A widely-travelled Patro enjoyed his stint as Energy Minister the most. A good orator, he had the rare talent to grasp the subject quickly and give an extempore speech on any issue without batting an eyelid. Once he was addressing a gathering of state electricity regulators from across the country as Energy Minister.
As he started speaking about the reforms undertaken by the Odisha government in power sector and the emerging issues before the regulator to address, some of the regulators from outside the state were taken by surprise by Patro’s deep understanding of subjects like engineering and commerce.
A man of all seasons, Patro endeared himself to everyone including his bitter political rivals. He had a good taste for food and loved to gorge on sweets despite being diabetic. He is survived by his wife Rajshree, two sons and a daughter. P5