A host of dignitaries including Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today paid rich tributes to former Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra, who passed away at a Mumbai hospital last night.
As the mortal remains of Mohaparta arrived here, political leaders and people from different walks of life thronged the airport as well as his house to have a last glimpse of the departed leader.
Patnaik, who paid floral tributes to the late leader and placed a wreath on his body at the airport, said Mohapatra had created a niche for himself in Odisha politics through his organisational skills and political acumen.
"I am distressed at the passing away of former MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra. He had a distinguished career as a civil servant and is known for his hard work and calibre. Later he came to politics and became a MP. In politics too he has proved his mettle," the Chief Minister said in a message.
"My deep sympathies are with the bereaved family members; may his soul rest in peace," he said.
Apart from Patnaik, a number of state Ministers and leaders including Finance Minister Pradip Amat, Industries Minister Debi Prasad Mishra and Women and Child Development Minister Usha Devi and BJD spokesperson S N Patro paid homage to the departed soul.
When the body of Mohapatra proceeded in a flower bedecked vehicle to his residence at Saheed Nagar, mourners including his admirers and followers lined up along the route to catch a last glimpse.
As streams of mourners poured in, "Pyari Babu Amar Rahe" (long live Pyari Babu) rent air. When the body reached his house, the entire area was packed with mourners jostling with each other to see their leader. Security personnel had a tough time in controlling the crowd as the body was kept at Saheed Nagar residence for people to pay their last respect.
Mohapatra's demise was condoled by many including Odisha Governor S C Jamir, Union Ministers Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan, Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Narasimha, Odisha BJP President Basant Panda and Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan.
Mohapatra, who had been undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Mumbai, breathed his last at the age of 77 last night.
Regarded as the chief strategist and mentor of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the former IAS officer played a key role in deciding the shape and contours of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) after the regional party was formed in 1997. Mohapatra happened to be Principal Secretary to Biju Patnaik when he was chief minister.