A Tribute to Sriballav Panigrahi
After attending a Zonal Conference of BJP at Kolkata, when I came back to Sambalpur and got down from Samaleswari Express at 9.30 am, the shocking news was awaiting me. Yes, Sriballav Panigrahi had passed away in a private nursing home in Bengaluru about an hour ago. I could not believe my ears as he was active when I had seen him last few weeks back. I talked to his sister Dr Raseswari Panigrahi and brother Subash Panigrahi over mobile from the railway station itself to confirm before returning home.
I know Sriballav babu since my school days. He was a politician of a different breed, different taste and different character. In the age of criminalized politics, criminals were nowhere near his shadow. An immensely talented politician, he stood committed to the cause of the Sambalpur region till his death. When I was the chairman of Sambalpur municipality, I saw him participate in the District Planning Committee meetings and practically taking tuitions of the bureaucrats on schemes of government as well as problems in the district.
Being on the other side of the fence of the political spectrum, we confronted on many occasions leading to embarrassing situations. During the 1980 Anti-Government student movement also he was on the other side, being a Congressman and we had many unpleasant situations. In spite of such hostilities on many occasions, he used to guide the people on the other side of the fence when we were fighting for common issues. He was also at the front line in the movements of the working class in and around Sambalpur.
Contrary to the present trend, he was also a man of literature, having a deep interest in Odia and Sambalpuri languages. He was also deeply involved in the campaign demanding constitutional status for the Sambalpuri language and the erection of the statue of Veer Surendra Sai on the premises of the Indian Parliament. It was a privilege on my part to be associated with him in many such movements, including the latest movement demanding the establishment of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Sambalpur. His pair of eyes were speaking about his personality all the time. While I have seen tears of sorrow in one eye for the oppressed, the other eye had the spark of fire against the oppressors.
In my opinion, he did not get the place he deserved. Completion of the work for which he fought relentlessly till his death will be the right tribute for him. Perhaps his death is the end of an era in Sambalpur. Sambalpur will miss him for a long long time. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family members and a respectful tribute to the departed soul.
May his soul rest in peace.
Member of Parliament (Bargarh)
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