Former Odisha Assembly speaker Sarat Kar died on Monday following a brief illness, family sources said. He was 81. Kar, who was also a distinguished writer, was ailing for the last few days and he died at a private hospital here, they said. He was admitted after being tested positive for Coronavirus.
Born in 1939 in Cuttack district, Kar had joined politics in 1964 after completing his Masters in Political Science from Allahabad University.
He was elected to the Odisha Assembly thrice in 1971, 1990 and 2000 from the Mahanga seat. A prolific writer and orator, the three-time legislator had become the minister for Education and Culture in Biswanath Das's cabinet at a young age in 1971. He was the speaker of Odisha Assembly from 2000 to 2004.
Kar was elected to the Lok Sabha on a Janata Party ticket in 1977 from Cuttack by defeating Congress stalwart and the then Union minister, J B Patnaik. Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and a host of dignitaries mourned the demise of Kar.
"Hon'ble Governor condoled the sad demise of Sri Sarat Kumar Kar veteran leader, eminent writer & former Speaker of OLA and conveyed his deep sympathy to the bereaved family. His contributions to the socio-political & cultural life of Odisha will be remembered forever," a post by the governor's official Twitter handle said. Hailing Kar as a talented political leader and an able administrator, Patnaik said the departed leader had efficiently discharged his responsibilities as the Assembly speaker.
As a minister, Kar had demonstrated leadership and administrative experience, he said. "Late Kar was popular among all as a prolific writer and orator. He had a vast knowledge of Odia culture. The state has lost a distinguished politician in his demise," the chief minister said in a message.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Odisha's politics and literature have suffered an irreparable loss in Kar's death. Odisha Assembly Speaker S N Patro, leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik, Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik also condoled Kar's death.
Kar has authored poetry books 'Druta Bilambita', 'Manthan', 'Romanthan' and 'Ananya', long fiction 'Samayara Jete Dheu', a spiritual book and written hundreds of articles in newspapers and magazines on literary, social, spiritual and political topics in Odia.