Bhubaneswar, May 31 (LocalWire) Pratap Chandra Sarangi, who is often called “Odisha’s Modi”, got a standing ovation as he got up to take the oath of office and secrecy in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, yesterday evening.
He has been inducted in the Narendra Modi government as the minister of state.
Earlier this week, the first-time parliamentarian caused quite a stir on social media when a photograph of him packing bags for Delhi in his basic bamboo hut went viral.
The BJP leader, who has had a long association with the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), made his maiden entry in the lower house by defeating sitting Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Member of Parliament (MP) and industrialist Rabindra Kumar Jena from Balasore by 12,956 votes in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls.
Sarangi had lost to Jena from the same constituency in 2014 parliamentary election.
So, who is Pratap Srangi?
Popular for his simple lifestyle, unpretentious ways, and as the politician who continues to live in a thatched house, the 64-year-old Sarangi is a two-time MLA from Nilagiri assembly constituency.
He won his first assembly election in 2004 on a BJP ticket from Nilagiri and was re-elected in 2009 as an independent candidate.
He is a good orator and can speak Odia and Sanskrit.
After graduating from Fakir Mohan College in Balasore, he wanted to become a monk in Ramkrishna Math, but the math encouraged him to do social work in his region.
According to his recent TV interview, at the age of 28, he wanted to join the Ramakrishna Math and Mission at Belur Math to pursue spiritual salvation and meet Swami Atmasthananda to pursue his calling.
However, when the Swami learned about the old and widowed mother who was dependent on Sarangi, he advised him to return home and take care of her.
Sarangi heeded his advice and returned but decided not to marry and took to social work.
He briefly worked as a clerk in a college but was deeply influenced by the RSS and VHP and started working with the two organizations. He also functioned as the Odisha unit president of Bajrang Dal and spearheaded a movement for the protection of cows.
In the state, he has also served as joint secretary of VHP, general secretary of Akhil Bharat Gobausha Rakshana Sambardhana Parishad, and as secretary of Vivekananda Study circle in Nilagiri.
The Balasore MP is also credited with opening a number of schools, Samrkara Kendra, for the poor in the tribal and remote areas under Gana Shiksha Mandir Yojana in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts of the state which were devoid of educational facilities.
He also inspired social awareness and led anti-liquor protest and drives against corruption, social injustice and police atrocity.
He is also known to and spend a major portion of his MLA pension to support education of poor children.
The politician who is popular for riding around the villages in a bicycle even while campaigning, decided to change gear and shifted to three-wheeler for his canvassing during the recent polls.
He was sandwiched between two of the richest candidates, Congress nominee, Nabajyoti Patnaik, who enjoyed the political legacy of his father Niranjan Patnaik, the state Congress president, and the sitting BJD MP Jena.