Lok Sabha ex-Speaker Rabi Ray accorded state funeral

Bhubaneswar, March 7 (IANS) The mortal remains of veteran socialist leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray were consigned to flames at his ancestral village Bhanragad in Odisha’s Puri district on Tuesday with full state honours.

Ray, 91, died at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack on Monday. He was admitted to the hospital following age-related ailments.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, former Janata Dal-United President Sharad Yadav, several ministers of the state and other leaders attended the funeral of Ray.

Earlier in the day, Governor S.C. Jamir, Naveen Patnaik, Nitish Kumar, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi and other dignitaries paid floral tributes to Ray at the Lohia Academy where his body was kept for people to pay their respects.

“I am deeply saddened by Ray’s demise. He was a Gandhian and a great socialist leader. He used to show us path and had a remarkable tenure as the Lok Sabha Speaker. His death is a great loss to Indian politics,” said Nitish Kumar.

Paying floral tributes to Ray, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said it was an end of an era in Indian politics. “It is a great loss for the state as well as for the country,” said Patnaik.

“I express my deep condolences on the demise of veteran socialist leader Rabi Rayji. I pray that his soul rests in peace,” Satyarthi said.

The Odisha government had declared one-day state mourning on Tuesday in honour of the eminent socialist leader. The national flag flew at half-mast on all government buildings.

Born on November 26, 1926, Ray joined national politics, inspired by the leadership of socialist leader Rammanohar Lohia. Ray was elected to the 4th Lok Sabha from the Puri constituency in Odisha in 1967. Prime Minister Morarji Desai inducted Ray into his Cabinet as the Minister for Health and Family Welfare in January 1979 and Ray continued in that post till January 1980.

In 1989, he was re-elected to the 9th Lok Sabha from the Kendrapara constituency in Odisha as a Janata Dal candidate. On December 19, 1989, he was unanimously elected the Speaker of the 9th Lok Sabha. In 1991, he was re-elected to the 10th Lok Sabha from the same constituency.

He graduated in History from Ravenshaw College and later studied law at Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack.

–IANS

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