Odisha Congress suffered a major blow after its Congress strongman and three-time MLA Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, 52, passed away last night at a hospital in Gurugram following a long bout of liver cirrhosis. A major road accident in 2010 had affected his liver adversely. Mohapatra, popularly known as Lulu, is survived by his wife and daughter.
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Mohapatra was under treatment for quite some time and had to be admitted in ICU at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram last night. He had multiple-organ failure and suffered a stroke soon after.
Pitchforked into Odisha politics as a National Student Union of India (NSUI) leader in late 80s, Mohapatra very soon emerged as a henchman of former chief minister J B Patnaik. Mohapatra’s father, a professor of English, was the former chief minister’s classmate and the latter treated Lulu like his son.
Known as a deft organiser, Mohapatra was feared in the party for his hold over the youth masses. In 1987, he was made state president of NSUI. In 1996, he became president of Odisha Youth Congress. He was MLA from Brahmagiri assembly constituency of Puri between 1995 and 2009 till he was unseated by BJD leader Sanjay Dasverma.
However, his influence in the party did not wane as he was appointed as the working president of Odisha Pradesh Congress. In 2014, he was tipped to become the Odisha PCC chief, but the party high command opted for Prasad Harichandan. Not the one to sit silent, Mohapatra travelled around the state to rally the Youth Congress workers behind him.
Since last year, he engineered “egg attack” on BJD ministers, including CM Naveen Patnaik. Last year his supporters attacked the CM’s convoy with eggs when he was on his way to attend a function at Bhubaneswar’s Utkal University. The incident was followed by several such egg attacks on BJD ministers Atanu Sabyasachi, Pushpendra Singhdeo and Sanjay Dasverma.
The egg attack also put BJD on the backfoot for quite sometime as police had to sanitise the roads for eggs every time the CM’s convoy would pass. But his growing disenchantment with the party affairs led him to form Lulu Sena, a brigade of youth who owed allegiance to him, early this year.
Condolences on his demise poured in from CM Patnaik, union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra, Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC general secretary in- charge of Odisha B K Hariprasad, OPCC president Prasad Harichandan and several other leaders. His body would be flown in to Bhubaneswar this morning following which it would be taken to his native village Gada Rodanga in Puri for cremation.