4, 2006 signaled the end of an era in Orissa’s albeit India’s political arena.
One of the most illustrious and multifaceted personalities of the country was
snatched away from us by the cruel hands of fate. At one point of time she was
referred to as the next Prime Minister of India after Mrs. Indira Gandhi. She
was also referred to as the iron Lady of Orissa. Member of Parliament in Pandit
Jawaharlal Nehru’s regime as the Prime Minister of India .Twice nominated to the
Rajya Sabha -Upper House of the Republic of India - I&B minister of India
- Minister attached to prime minister in Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s cabinet - former
Chief Minister of Orissa - Award winning literary of India, Social activist, Progressive
thinker Smt. Nandini Satpathy had many achievements & traits which are nearly
impossible for an individual to achieve in one lifetime.
Sh. Kalindi Charan Panigrahi
Nandini Satpathy came from a highly respected and literary family. She was the
eldest daughter of Padmabhushan Sh. Kalindi Charan Panigrahi, author of MATIRA
MANISA (legendary Oriya book). Her uncle Sh.Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi established
the Communist Party in Orissa. Her grandfather Sh.Swapneswar Panigrahi used to
help Congress leaders like Shri Nilakantha Dash in his pre independence movement
against the British Raj.
an early age, young Nandini was familiar with all the big names in politics and
literature of Orissa & India. Born on June 9, 1931, she grew up in Cuttack
. Smt.Nandini Satpathy the then Nandini Panigrahi while pursuing her Masters of
Arts (Oriya) at Ravenshaw College, became a luminary of the ‘Students Federation’,
the student wing of the Communist Party. In 1951, there was a student movement
in Orissa against the rising cost of College education. Young Nandini was a student
leader pea excellence and while protesting, she was lathi charged by the police.
The issue later developed into a national youth movement. She, along with many
others, was jailed. In jail she met another member of the Student Federation named
Sh.Devendra Satpathy who later became her life partner. Sh.Devendra Satpathy much
later got elected as the member of Parliament of India ( Lok Sabha) for two terms
Smt. Nandini Satpathy joined the Congress Party and she got elected as the President
of the sleepy women’s congress outfit 'Women’s Forum'. The Women's Forum of the
AICC held its annual meeting in Chennai. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then AICC president,
was there to address the members. It is there that Mrs. Gandhi noticed the fire
brand leadership of Smt. Nandini Satpathy. It is a much known fact that both Nandini
Satpathy & Indira Gandhi were very close to each other. Thou they had some
differences on how the Congress party should function but on a personal front,
the fondness for each other remained.
In 1962 the Opposition had been decimated and it was the glorious time of the
Congress rule in Orissa. The Assembly boasted more than 80 Congress members out
of 140. At the national level the talk was to bringing more women into the Parliament
of India. The Fire brand Smt. Nandini Satpathy the then president of the Women’s
Forum was the first choice to be elected by the Orissa State Legislative Assembly.
Thus Smt. Nandini Satpathy entered Rajya Sabha in 1962. She served two terms at
the Rajya Sabha.
meet (L-R) Smt. Gandhi & Smt. Satpathy
Mrs. Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister Smt.Nandini Satpathy became Minister
attached to Prime Minister.
Smt. Satpathy also handled the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting ( most
of the progress we see today in regard to I&B has been her contribution to
the nation). A few years later, in order to fill the void created by the departures
of the likes of Sh.Mahatab, Sh.Chaudhury, and Sh.Biju Patnaik from the Congress
party, Smt Nandini Satpathy came back to the state of Orissa to save the disintegrating
Party and also to save the congress Government. In order to become the Chief Minister
of Orissa Smt. Satpathy had to defeat the then political heavy weights of Orissa.
In later elections, especially of Cuttack, she had to single-handedly fight four
former Chief Ministers of Orissa combinedly. She revived the congress party with
thumping majority and got the state of Orissa back for Mrs. Indira Gandhi. During
Smt. Satpathy’s tenure as the Chief Minister of Orissa, the State witnessed unprecedented
growth in the area of Rural Development, Education, Art & Culture, Music and
Women Empowerment etc. People of Orissa still fondly remember the period when
she was the Chief Minister as the phase during which the State saw the best of
Administration coupled with progress.
Nandini Satpathy at a meeting in Orissa
Nandini Satpathy’s popularity can be gauged from the fact that in her 55 years
of electoral political life she has never faced defeat in any election. She contested
all the elections in succession and with out giving a miss to any in all those
Nandini Satpathy genetically inherited the literary traits of her father Padmabhushan
Sh.Kalindi Charan Panigrahi. She has many compilations of short stories and translations
to her credit. Her Oriya translations of Amrita Pritam’s ‘Rasidi Ticket’ and Taslima
Nasrin’s ‘Lajjya’ received critical acclaim and were also recognized by the Sahitya
is survived by two sons Sh. Nachiketa Satpathy(elder son) & Sh. Tathagat Satpathy.
The latter became a MLA from Dhenkanal Sadar in 1990. He got elected to the Parliament
of India from Dhenkanal (BJD party) in the 12th, 14th & the 15th Lok Sabha.
grandson Sh. Suparno Satpathy (s/o of her elder son) is a writer, a champion
sports veteran, an awarded social activist and a young promising political leader.
Fulfilling the last wishes of late Smt. Satpathy he joined the Indian National
Congress party in 2006. He is the Chairman of Smt. Nandini Satpathy Memorial Trust
(SNSMT). In July 2007 he was appointed the Convener-PMYSA-Orissa by the Ministry
of Panchayatiraj , Government of India.
Smt. Nandini Satpathy's activities as a Social activist, Political leader and
in literature will always inspire generations to come especially Nandinis' of
the world (Nandini is a Sanskrit word which means Daughter)