Former Odisha Speaker Maheswar Mohanty No More

Bhubaneswar: Former Speaker of Odisha Legislative Assembly, ex-minister and veteran BJD leader Maheswar Mohanty passed away at a private hospital here in the early hours of Tuesday. He was 67.

Maheswar, a former MLA of Puri, suffered a brain stroke and was admitted at a hospital on November 1. His condition was critical and was being treated at the ICU of the hospital. He breathed his last at 3.25 am, hospital sources said.

He is survived by his wife and two sons.

A five-time legislator, Maheswar was minister in the Naveen Patnaik government from 2011 to 2014 and also from 2017 to 2018 and held portfolios such as law, revenue, panchayat raj and planning and coordination. He was Speaker from May 2004 to March 2008.

The BJD leader, who was elected to Odisha assembly from Puri constituency for five consecutive terms from 1995, lost to BJP’s Jayant Sarangi in 2019 by a slender margin of 4008 votes. Even after defeat, he continued to play an active role in party”s organisational matters in Puri district.

Mohanty dodged several controversies in the past, including allegation of sexually harassing a lady assistant marshal of the Assemble during his tenure as the Speaker in 2008. He had also survived a deadly attack after being fired at by miscreants on February 21, 2014 near Amala club in Puri when he was the Revenue Minister.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Sarat Patnaik, BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda, among others, mourned his death.

Expressing grief over demise, the CM described him as a popular leader with organisational skills. “Mohanty played important role in the development of Puri as MLA and Minister,” he added.

Chhattisgarh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan termed his demise an irreparable loss to Odisha politics.

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