BJD candidate and former Odisha finance minister passes away
The 83-year-old Agarwal, the only Marwari politician in BJD, had been unwell for the past few days and was admitted to a private hospital in the city after his condition deteriorated.Updated: Apr 20, 2019 13:58 IST
Veteran politician and BJD’s candidate from Patkura Assembly constituency in the currently underway elections, Bed Prakash Agarwal passed away today in a Bhubaneswar-based private hospital while undergoing treatment.
The 83-year-old Agarwal, the only Marwari politician in BJD, had been unwell for the past few days and was admitted to a private hospital in the city after his condition deteriorated. BJD leaders said Agarwal’s body will be kept at the state party office allowing people to pay their last respects.
The four-time MLA was so sick that he could not personally collect the party ticket from the BJD office. His son, daughter and wife had helped him in filing his nomination papers and they continued to campaign for him while he underwent treatment.
Officials in Odisha’s Chief Electoral Office said elections to Patkura would be countermanded as BJD was a registered political party. Elections in Patkura would possibly be conducted after May 23 when the results of the assembly polls are declared.
A protege of late chief minister Biju Patnaik, Agarwal began his political career as an MLA of the Utkal Congress from Kendrapara Assembly constituency. Later he joined the Janata Dal and became the finance minister in the Biju Patnaik government.
After Biju Patnaik’s death in 1997, Agarwal joined the BJP and won from the Kendrapara assembly constituency in 2000 on BJP ticket. He was made a cabinet minister in the Naveen Patnaik government. However, he had to shift to Patkura in 2004 after the Kendrapara assembly constituency was declared as a reserved one. He suffered a defeat in the 2004 Assembly elections, but continued to be in the reckoning as he was made the deputy chairman of the State Planning Board. He joined the BJD on the eve of the assembly polls in 2009.
The countermanding of election in Patkura spells bad news for veteran politician and BJP candidate Bijoy Mohapatra, who after a 20-year-long absence from the Odisha Assembly, was hoping to re-enter the House on the back of a sympathy wave. Mohapatra was one of the founding members of the BJD but was unceremoniously ousted from the party by Naveen Patnaik just before the 2000 assembly polls.
Mohapatra has been defeated several times in all subsequent elections. The death of Agarwal also may not be good news for Baijayant Panda, BJP MP candidate from Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency, in which Patkura falls. For Panda, contesting against BJD candidate and actor Anubhav Mohanty, Patkura was a crucial constituency that could have given him a suitable number of votes to keep his head above water.