Odisha ex-CM Hemananda Biswal dead

Former Odisha Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal passed away at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar while undergoing treatment on Friday, his daughter Sunita Biswal said. He was 82.

He was suffering from pneumonia and is survived by five daughters — Sabita, Sanjukya, Manjiulata, Sunita and Anita.

Born in 1939, Biswal was elected as the Chief Minister twice — from December 7, 1989, to March 5, 1990, and again from December 6, 1999, to March 5, 2000. He was the first tribal CM of the state.

He was elected to the Odisha Assembly six times on a Congress ticket. In 2009, he was also elected as an MP from Sundargarh.

A teacher by profession, he was elected as an MLA for the first time in 1974. He started his political career from panchayat politics having contested and won rural elections before contesting for Assembly and legislative elections. He was the chairman of the Kimira panchayat samiti in Jharsuguda district between 1967 and 1971.

Expressing grief, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “He will always be remembered for his work towards the progress of the state and for the betterment of the people. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.”

State Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said the party had lost a strong fighter and a protector of tribal interests. BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda said: “Very sad at the passing of Hemananda Biswal ji, who had been Odisha’s first tribal CM. He twice held that office for brief tenures in the 1990s. We knew each other well & had interacted often, he was always very affable & dignified. Deepest condolences to his family.”

Union Minister and senior BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan said: “Saddened to know about Biswal’s demise. Odisha lost an efficient and experienced politician.” BJP MP Suresh Pujari said Biswal’s demise was a major loss for the state and western Odisha in particular.

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