Political fraternity mourns Lulu’s demise


Bhubaneswar: The political fraternity of Odisha is mourning the untimely death of prominent Congress leader Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra popularly known as Lulu Bhai. Both party and non party leaders have expressed grief over his death on Sunday at a Gurgaon based hospital. His body will reach Bhubaneswar by 5 pm on Monday after which the last rites will be performed in his former constituency Brahmagiri, Puri on Tuesday. He was suffering from liver issues following a major accident in 2010 and passed away owing liver cirrhosis.

Hailing from Gadarodanglulu mourning village in Brahmagiri, Mohapatra was born on February 14, 1964. He completed his schooling from Ravenshaw Collegiate School and later studied at the Ravenshaw College in Cuttack where his father was an English professor.

The dynamic leader stormed into politics when in 1983 he was elected as president of National Students Union of India (NSUI), Odisha and became President of Odisha Youth Congress in 1987. He was extremely close to former CM JB Patnaik.
Known for his bold and valiant personality, he was active as a leader of youth and students for three decades. Though he never became the Pradesh Congress Committee president, his role in the party’s affairs was vital. Mohapatra never rebelled against the party’s High Command though he would express discontent.

He was an efficient leader when it came to organising members of the party, specially in its student and youth chapters. Despite the controversies his remarks or steps sparked, he always remained the much regarded ‘Lulu Bhai’ of student members of Congress.

Though he was elected to the Assembly thrice in a row from Brahmagiri, he had to suffer defestudents paying homageat during the last two elections. But his efforts never rested. In fact, he was in controversy recently for organising black flag and egg hurling protests. His demise has created an eternal vacuum in the context of student politics in the state.

Mohapatra’s influence was so strong that even the biggest leaders from rival parties condoled his death. “In him Congress party lost an excellent organiser,” said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik while BJD MP Baijayant Panda also expressed grief saying Mohapatra was a formidable leader and a friend.

Even his political rival from Brahmagiri, BJD’s Sanjay Das Burma condoled his death saying that he has high regards for Lulu will always be remembered as a strong leader. BJP Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said he knew Lulu since his student days. “He will be eternally remembered as a leader of the public leader and great political worker,” said Pradhan who paid Mohapatra a last visit at the Medant Hospital in Gurgaon where the leader passed away.

While Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi expressed condolences, Odisha Congress chief Prasad Harichandan said, “He was our support even in the worse situations for his strength. he played a major role in organising student leaders in 1995 to bring Congress back in power.”

Political leaders irrespective of their party also tweeted to express their tribute to the leader. Meanwhile, student Congress leaders were seen grieving inconsolably. Even student BJD members paid their homage at Utkal University by organising a condolence meeting on Monday. Former Utkal University president from NSUI, Odisha and present BJD student leader Tanmay Swain reminisced, “All I know of politics is from him. He always called me ‘president’ and not by name. When I was elected Utkal University president he introduced me to all cabinet ministers. Other politicians make party workers but he used to build party leaders.”

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