Lulu Mohapatra, Senior Odisha Congress Leader passes away.

Odisha Congress suffered a major blow after its Congress strongman and three-time MLA Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, 52, passed away at a hospital in Gurugram following a long bout of liver cirrhosis. A major road accident in 2010 had affected his liver adversely. Mohapatra, popularly known as Lulu.

Mohapatra was under treatment for quite some time and had to be admitted in ICU at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram last night. He had multiple-organ failure and suffered a stroke soon after.

Pitchforked into Odisha politics as a National Student Union of India (NSUI) leader in late 80s, Mohapatra very soon emerged as a henchman of former chief minister J B Patnaik. Mohapatra’s father, a professor of English, was the former chief minister’s classmate and the latter treated Lulu like his son.

Known as a deft organiser, Mohapatra was feared in the party for his hold over the youth masses. In 1987, he was made state president of NSUI. In 1996, he became president of Odisha Youth Congress. He was MLA from Brahmagiri assembly constituency of Puri between 1995 and 2009 till he was unseated by BJD leader Sanjay Dasverma.

However, his influence in the party did not wane as he was appointed as the working president of Odisha Pradesh Congress. In 2014, he was tipped to become the Odisha PCC chief, but the party high command opted for Prasad Harichandan. Not the one to sit silent, Mohapatra travelled around the state to rally the Youth Congress workers behind him.

Since last year, he engineered “egg attack” on BJD ministers, including CM Naveen Patnaik. Last year his supporters attacked the CM’s convoy with eggs when he was on his way to attend a function at Bhubaneswar’s Utkal University. The incident was followed by several such egg attacks on BJD ministers Atanu Sabyasachi, Pushpendra Singhdeo and Sanjay Dasverma.