Udayavni Special

Congress candidate for Odisha assembly by-election dies


Team Udayavani, Apr 14, 2021, 7:30 PM IST

Bhuvaneshwar: Congress candidate for the by-election in Odisha’s Pipili assembly constituency, Ajit Mangaraj, died at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday, three days before the polling scheduled on April 17, family sources said.

However, the by-election is likely to be countermanded.

Mangaraj, 53, was hospitalised after falling ill during campaigning in Pipili last week. He had announced on Saturday that he tested positive for COVID-19.

Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and senior Congress leaders condoled his death.

The state’s Chief Electoral Officer SK Lohani sought a report from the district election officer of Puri on the death of Mangaraj, an official said.

Campaigning for the election, which was scheduled to end on Thursday, also came to a halt.

”The hon’ble Governor condoled the passing away of senior Congress leader and Pipili assembly bypoll candidate Ajit Mangraj and extended his condolences to his family members. Om Shanti,” a Raj Bhavan statement said.

”I am sad to know about the demise of Congress candidate Ajit Mangraj who is contesting the Pipili assembly by-election. I extend my condolences to the bereaved families at such a sad time,” the chief minister said in a tweet.

Patnaik had called up Mangaraj’s family members to enquire about his health condition on Monday.

Union Petroleum Minister Pradhan, who hails from the state, visited the hospital and expressed his condolence over the death of Mangaraj.

”He was infected with corona and passed away today. I pray to Lord to give peace to his soul and strength to his family members,” Pradhan said.

Senior Congress leader Pradeep Majhi said that Mangaraj’s blood oxygen level dropped to below 30 per cent and he could not recover from it.

”It is our fault to hold elections during the pandemic. The Congress candidate became a victim of the infection. There should be no election during the pandemic,” the former MP said.

The April 17 polling is likely to be countermanded due to the death of a candidate, Majhi said.

Congress MLAs Taraprasad Bahinipati and Ramesh Jena said that Mangaraj died due to respiratory problems.

Former state Congress president Jaydev Jena also expressed grief over the untimely demise of Mangaraj.

The bypoll in the constituency was necessitated due to the death of senior BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy in October last year.

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