The "Iron lady" of Orissa politics
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Bhubaneswar, Aug 4 (PTI) Once known as the iron lady of Orissa politics, Nandini Satpathy, who died here today, was more of literatteur than a politician.

The second woman to become a Chief Minister of the state after Sucheta Krupalini, Satpathy ruled the state with an iron fist and would be remembered for the efforts she made for land reforms.

Many felt she had leftist leaning - her uncle Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi was one of the founders of communist movement in Orissa - but was an achiever as her administrative capabilities showed.

Born on June nine, 1931, she was brought up in a family of literatteurs as father Padmabhusan Kalindi Charan Panigrahi was a famous Oriya writer.

She was only 31 when she was elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Congress candidate in 1962 and was returned to the upper house for a second consecutive term in 1968.

As a Rajya Sabha member, she served in the first Indira Gandhi government as deputy minister for Information and Broadcasting minister and then as a deputy minister and a minister of state without portfolio.

She was given charge of the Information and Broadcasting ministry as minister of state between March 1971 and June 1972. Satpathy rose to become a member of the AICC working committee in 1972.

With the fall of the Swatantra-Utkal Congress ministry in 1972, Satpathy was sent to Orissa to head the Congress-led government.

After President's rule in the state for a year, she was sworn in again as Chief Minister for a two-year period from 1974 till 1976.

Satpathy's differences with the party high command widened as she criticised the Emergency and joined Jagjivan Ram and Hemabati Nandan Bahuguna to launch the Congress For Democracy (CFD) which eventually merged with Jayprakash Narayan-inspired Janata Party.

Though she was elected as a Janata Party MLA in 1977, she never appeared comfortable in the party.

She returned to Congress and remained a member of the assembly even as J B Patnaik became the Chief Minister. In 1989, she was made the the President of Orissa PCC when Hemananda Biswal replaced Patnaik as Chief Minister.

Satpathy had the rare honour of winning seven elections to the state assembly in a row from three different constituencies and never tested defeat in any electoral battle.

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