A surprise pick from Odisha in Modi Cabinet Pratap Chandra Sarangi was talk of the nation for a quit sometime recently for his spiritual way of life. While Senior BJP leaders have tweeted about him with his photos of riding a cycle, his living in a thatched house and simple living style were viral all over. After inducting in Union Ministry he has been allotted with MSME, Fishery & Animal Husbandry department.
The time was April-14-15, 2017, BJP National Executive Meeting in Bhubaneswar. After a long time BJP National Executive was organized here to keep it a priority and focus state. Party Central leadership had decided to have it in Bhubaneswar after it emerged No-2 in Zilla Parishad elections leaving principal Opposition Congress to distant third. An old beard man was waiting to receive among the dignitaries to receive Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. After accepting flower bouquets from Governor, Union Ministers, State Government Officials and Sr BJP leaders when Modi approached him after handshake had a little chat with Sarangi and announced Hamara Sabse Purana Ourr Srududha Sainik (he is our old, trusted and strong lieutenant). Every time PM visits Odisha and especially during electioneering he never misses any chance to have a small chat with him. And especially for him PM Modi came to Balesore had a rally in Basta to canvass for Pratap Sarangi.
For 64 years old Pratap Chandra Sarangi, a the first time MP from Balesore, Odisha known as ‘Pratap Nana’ among his villagers and friend circle , life was never like this as on today. He was sworn in as Minister of State in 2.0 Modi Government on 30th May. The invited Guests at the forecourt of Rastrapati Bhavan was overwhelmed and applauded him for being inducted in Union Cabinet. 15 years back he was heading Bajrang Dal in Odisha, and was the state joint secretary of VHP, an out and out Hindutva Activist known for Cow protection activism and RSS cadre from College days, became popular now-a-days in Social Media circle as ‘MODI’ of Odisha. His pursuance for spirituality has attracted many.
Sarangi is in news these days for his simple living, low profile life style and being the poor among all the 21 elected MPs of the State with a declared asset( both acquired and inherited) of 13,46,226 (it was 10 lakh in 2014). He doesn’t possesses any Vehicle, Jewelry, has a liability of only Rs 160. He has not filed any returns during the last five years. Seven cases are pending against him though he is not convicted in any cases. He is probably the poorest among elected MPs in 17th Lok Sabha. A two times MLA from Nilagiri once on a BJP ticket in 2004 and second time in 2009 as an Independent candidate after his party denied ticket to him again fought unsuccessfully as a MP candidate in 2014 general elections from Balesore had lost to BJD’s Rabindra Jena with a huge margin of 1.42 lakh votes. This time a strong Modi wave across nation favored him and Modi himself came and addressed a huge Rally in his constituency that won him with a slender margin of 12,956 votes from Jena. Interestingly, he was pitted against two millionaires -Industrialist and sitting MP of BJD Ranindra Kumar Jena and another Industrialist Navajyoti Patnaik who happens to be the son of PCC President and former Minister Niranjan Patnaik. Patnaik Junior is the richest among Parliamentary Candidates with assets worth 104 crore. And so is Jena with declared assets of 57 crore. While both Jena and Patnaik had Hi-Tech Campaign, Luxury Cars, Sarangi on other hand opted to campaign with auto-Rickshwa. And won the hearts of people. For quit long time Balesore seat was with INC and CPI alternatively and for the first time than Janata Dal snatched the seat from Congress in 1989. BJP Candidate got elected from here in 1998 again in 1999 and 2004. After a long period former Union Minister Srikant Jena won this seat in a Congress ticket in 2009 and it went back to ruling BJD in Odisha in 2014.
A bachelor RSS ideologue and widely accepted for his oratory skills as he speaks well in Sanskriti, Odia and Hindi and for his firebrand speeches Sarangi after graduating from Fakir Mohan College in Balesore had joined in Nilagiri (His home town) College as a Sr Clerk but that doesn’t kept him there as it always like he was active in Social Service and was happy with mingling with Children and youth. During the time he was very active in Sangha Pariwar activities even for a quit long time was into Cow vigilantism.
A reluctant politician had joined Ramkrushna Mutt to be a monk in his early life but Ashram sent back him to serve his ailing mother and communities there. He worked for educational development and well being of Adivasis and served the people of his locality Nilagiri besides in Balesore and neighboring Mayurbhanj districts. He has established many Schools in tribal hinterlands of this region. He spends a major chunk of his MLA pension for education of Children. Elder among two brothers and two sisters
His humble background, honesty, simplicity and soberness won many hearts across the state. That’s why people see him a potential alternative to Naveen Patnaik as Naveen continuously winning hearts of people of the state elections after elections; because of his clean image and honesty. According to political observers, BJP central leadership might have given thought about it and kept in mind to pitt him against Naveen Patnaik to revive party’s fortune in Odisha.
Born on 4th January 1955 in a poor family of Gopinathpur Village, 3 kms from Nilagiri town, Sarangi still lives in his ancestral thatched house built with mud and bamboo and rides by-cycle. Clad in Dhoti often Kurta and Punjabi he sets his journey with limited needs.
Immediately, after results came out Sangha Activists started a virtual campaign – His Photos of Cycle ride from his village with a small bag to catch a Bus or a train, sitting in verandah of his home, his interaction with villagers etc went viral and many people placed comments on these posts, forwarded to friends, in Facebook and WhatsApp groups etc. Even mainstream media also got catch up with these images ran stories. Seeing his popularity among people, might have forced PM Modia and BJP president Amit Shah to reconsider his name though they had 7 other MPs from Odisha of them two women one IAS turned politician Aparajita Sarngi who in her maiden political entry elected from Bhubanswar Parliamentary seat, another ministerial probable was Sangeeta Singh Deo, third time MP from Bolangir and wife of Kanaka Vardhan Singhdeo, former state BJP president, then former state President, now party’s Bengal in-charge National Secretary Suresh Pujari, a first time MP from Baragarh. Significantly, this time party dropped a veteran among the winners former Union Tribal Affairs Minister Juel Oram,who has served both Atal Behary Bajpayee and Modi Government, he won the Tribal dominated Sindargarh Seat this time and last time also in 2014 he was the lone BJP MP from Odisha.
Sarangi, one among the National Executive members of the party has thanked Prime Minister Modi and BJP President Amit Shah besides Dharmendra Pradhan for their gratefulness and expressed desire to serve the nation.
By Sudarshan Chhotoray