Bhubaneshwar: Former minister and Biju Janata Dal MLA from Pipili, Pradeep Maharathy, passed away on Saturday night. He was 65.
He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
On September 14, the BJD leader had tested positive for Covid-19 and he was undergoing treatment ever since.
Born on July 4, 1955, Maharathy was one of the towering non-Congress leaders in Odisha.
Considered a close confidante of former chief minister Biju Patnaik, Maharathy began his career from student politics. He was elected as secretary, Morning College, Puri, and latter as president of SCS College, Puri.
In the 1975 Emergency, he was arrested under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
Known for his good sense of humour, the leader always projected him as a farmer. He always chose to raise the voice of common people both in and outside the State Assembly.
A straight-forward politician as he was, Maharathy very often put his party on the spot by making some frank observations. He often lost his place in the state council of ministers because of his raising issues that went against his party’s interests.
The seven-time MLA was elected to Odisha Legislative Assembly in 1985, 90, 2000, 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019. He was appointed government deputy chief from 1990 and 1995 when Biju Patnaik-led Janata Dal came to power defeating the Congress then led in the state by J B Patnaik.
On March 22, 2000, he was appointed as government chief whip after the Biju Janata Dal came to power.
Despite his commitment to the party and leadership, Maharathy had to wait till 2011 to get a ministerial berth.
As minister of agriculture, fisheries and animal resources, he initiated a lot of welfare measures for the farmers. He toured to various parts of Odisha to gather first hand information on the plights and problems of farmers.
On December 22, 2017, he was appointed as panchayati raj and drinking water minister. His tenure marked several villages in the state getting piped drinking water.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Odisha governor Ganeshi Lal, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra, veteran Congress leader Narasingha Mishra and several other important leaders condoled the death of Maharathy.