about smt. nandini satpathy
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about Smt. Nandini Satpathy

August 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

Smt. 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.

From 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 from Dhenkanal.

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.

AICC meet (L-R) Smt. Gandhi & Smt. Satpathy

When 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.

Smt. Nandini Satpathy at a meeting in Orissa

Smt. 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 55 years.

Smt. 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 Akademi.

She 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.

Her 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.

Late 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)