Hemananda Biswal, Odisha's first tribal chief minister, is no more

Odisha: Hemananda Biswal, Odisha's first tribal chief minister and the state's last Congress chief minister, died on Friday at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar following a brief illness. He was 82 years old at the time.

Biswal, a Bhuyan tribal from Jharsuguda, served as chief minister twice, from 1989 to 1990 and again from 1999 to 2000. After the Congress(I) was routed in the Lok Sabha elections, he replaced then-chief minister JB Patnaik in December 1989. He was re-elected chief minister in December 1999 after former chief minister Giridhari Gamang was ousted due to his failure to provide assistance and rehabilitation in the aftermath of the 1999 super storm that ravaged the Odisha coast.

The Congress was defeated by the BJD-BJP coalition in the 2000 assembly elections, and the party has never been able to reclaim power since then.

Biswal made his debut in politics as the head of the Kirimira panchayat samiti in the Jharsuguda district. In 1974, he was first elected to the Odisha legislature from the Laikera constituency. He was elected as an MLA six times from the same seat in the legislature. He was elected to the Sundargarh Legislative Assembly in 2009.

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