Bhubaneswar, Mar 20 : Former Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra passed away tonight at a hospital in Mumbai after a prolonged illness. He was 77 years old, and had been undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Mumbai, where he passed away tonight, his family said.
Regarded as the chief strategist and mentor of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, Mohapatra is the former IAS officer of 1963 batch. He played a key role in deciding the shape and contours of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) after the regional party was formed in 1997.
He got himself actively involved in the affairs of the BJD before the assembly elections in 2000 and continued to play a key role in consolidation of Naveen Patnaik as the undisputed leader of the regional party.
Mohapatra paved the way for Naveen’s smooth ascension to the throne in 2000 when he engineered the expulsion and subsequent political checkmating of Bijoy Mohapatra. From early 2000, Mohapatra scripted almost all the moves of Naveen. He soon acquired a larger-than-life image in the party with bureaucrats queuing up before his house for orders on some policy issues.
But post-2009 polls, the bond between the two men showed signs of cracks as Mohapatra tried to assert himself as the most important leader of the party but Naveen asked his bureaucrats not to report to his political advisor.
Mohapatra fell from grace on May 29, 2012 when he allegedly tried to engineer a coup in the party while Naveen was away in London, aiming to pass no confidence motion in his name.
A host of dignitaries, including Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Lok Sabha Member Baijayant Panda, Odisha BJP President Basant Panda, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Prasad Harichandan have expressed condolences over the death of Mohapatra.