Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Aug 5:
The first Lok Sabha Speaker from Odisha and veteran socialist politician–Rabi Ray—is struggling with impairment in cognitive function since couple of years after being diagnosed with dementia.
Since last two years, Ray is suffering from dementia and is unable to recognise his near and dear ones. The octogenarian recollects past events only faintly when repeated again and again.
The former Speaker of the lower House has remained isolated from politics for over a decade now due to his failing health. He is afflicted with the syndrome which is progressive in nature.
The senile Ray is under the treatment of Dr Dhananjay Ram, posted at City Hospital, who visits him twice a week for routine check-up at his Kalyani Nagar abode here.
“We are spending over Rs 20, 000 a month towards his treatment. Though he is getting several medicines under Central government’s health schemes, the drugs are not enough to contain the disease. Money has become an obstacle for his treatment,” family sources said, not wishing to be named.
The veteran politician is surviving on a monthly pension which is insufficient to meet the requirements. Besides, the family members find it difficult to pay four men employed to nurse him.
After coming to know about the failing health condition of Ray, senior BJP leader Biswabhusan Harichandan had requested the district Collector to provide health facilities to him. Following this, a doctor was assigned for routine check up.
Apart from that, neither political leaders nor the district administration have turned up to inquire about Ray’s health.
He was considered close to former chief minister Biju Patnaik. However, the latter’s son and chief minister Naveen Patnaik hasn’t paid a visit to his father’s contemporary even once during his term in the last 15 years.
Born on 26 November 1926 in Bhanagarh village in Puri district, Ray joined national politics due to the inspirational leadership of Dr Rammanohar Lohia.
Prime Minister Morarji Desai inducted Ray into his Cabinet as Minister for Health and Family Welfare in January 1979 and the latter continued in that post till January 1980.
The General Elections to the Ninth Lok Sabha were held in 1989 and he returned to the Lok Sabha on the Janata Dal ticket from the Kendrapara constituency. On 19 December 1989, he was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha as the first leader from Odisha to occupy the exalted post.
He graduated in History from Ravenshaw College and later studied Law in Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack. The foundation of his future political career was laid when he was elected President of the Ravenshaw College Students’ Union in 1948-49 and as the first President of the Madhusudan Law College Students’ Union in 1949-50.
Ray was deeply drawn towards the freedom struggle. In early 1947, while continuing his graduation, he courted arrest in connection with the unfurling of the national flag.