Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Jul 25:
Senior Biju Janata Dal leader and Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha Kalpataru Das passed away at the Institute of Rotary Cancer Hospital at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) this afternoon. He was 65.
Das had been ailing for quite some time and had been admitted to AIIMS on Monday after his condition became critical.
The senior BJD leader is survived by his wife and three sons, all of whom were present at the bedside when the end came.
Family sources said his body would be flown to Odisha tomorrow morning and taken to Dharamashala for cremation after party colleagues and others pay their last respects here.
According to sources, Kalpataru Das was undergoing treatment in New Delhi and had also travelled to the USA for consultation.
Das was unable to attend the BJD parliamentary meeting at Naveen Niwas last Sunday in Odisha capital due to his illness.
Earlier, Das was admitted to Fortis Memorial Research Institute at Gurgaon on April 18 after profuse bleeding from his nose the previous day.
On the advice of the ENT doctors, he underwent a nasal endoscopy, which revealed a small tumour between the forehead and inner nasal cavity following which he underwent chemo therapy.
Born at Bhotka village in Jajpur district on August 15, 1950, Das had risen through the ranks to become a four-time MLA, a cabinet minister and finally a Rajya Sabha MP.
He was elected to the Assembly from the Dharmashala constituency four times in succession since 1990 – the first time on a Janata Dal ticket and the next three times on BJD ticket. In the 2014 Assembly elections, however. his son Pranab Balabantaray was nominated from his seat while Kalpataru was nominated for the Rajya Sabha.
Das had become very powerful in the BJD in the wake of the May 29, 2012 failed coup by erstwhile BJD leader Pyari Mohan Mohapatra. He was made a cabinet minister and given charge of the important portfolios of Panchayati Raj and Parliamentary Affairs.
He was widely believed to have exercised considerable influence in the distribution of tickets for the simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
His stock, however, fell after he and his family were embroiled in a land and discretionary quota scam.
His party colleague from Jajpur and senior BJD leader Amar Satpathy has condoled Das’ death saying he had a long road ahead in politics. “It is an extremely shocking piece of news. He had a lot of work left to do, not just for Dharmashala, which he represented four times, but for the whole of Odisha,” Satpathy said.