Nakkinti Bhaskar Rao is as much known for his organisational skills as his closeness to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Rao, 62, has never been an MLA before, let alone an MP, but is now set to enter the Rajya Sabha as one of the BJD’s three candidates from the state.
Rao, the most prominent BJD face in southern Odisha and district president in Rayagada, declared property of Rs 33 crore in his affidavit. A businessman with interests in transport and logistics and a gas dealership, he is believed to help fund much of the BJD’s electoral machinery in Rayagada.
“He is an organisational man and always keeps in touch with party cadre. In panchayat polls, Rao is an asset for the party,” said local BJD leader B Tirupati. Rao’s parents hailed from Tamrapalli of Andhra Pradesh, moved to Rayagada more than 50 years ago and started sugarcane farming, a business since wound up.
Rao rose after bagging transport contracts of major industrial houses like J K Paper Mills and Utkal Alumina. He is also president of Rayagada District Truck Owners Association.
Rao was in the Janata Dal in 1990s when then chief minister Bju Patnaik started cultivating him to counter the influence of erstwhile transport minister Harischandra Buxipatra in undivided Koraput. In BJD, Naveen made him chairman of Odisha State Rural Housing Development Corporation and Odisha Small Industries Corporation. In 2014, he was made chairman of State Planning Board, a post that gave him the status of a Cabinet minister.
In 2011, his brothers N Peraya Raju and N Nageswar Rao were hacked to death in suspected political rivalry. The following year, Rao’s wife, son and daughter-in-law moved to Visakhaptanam.