National

From Rairangpur To Raisina -- Odisha's Moment Of Pride

For Odisha, the highlight of the tumultuous year gone by was when the "daughter of the soil" Dropupadi Murmu became the first tribal president of the country.

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Elected President Droupadi Murmu.
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The state celebrated Murmu's rise from the remote Rairangpur town to the seat of power in Raisina Hills last July with great fanfare and pride. She also created a record by becoming the youngest president of the country at age 64, and the first president to be born in independent India.

In the state, the ruling BJD held fast to its grip with the Naveen Patnaik-led party demolishing the opposition BJP and Congress in the panchayat polls and civic body elections. BJD won 80 per cent of local bodies in rural and urban areas.

The BJD also won the Padampur bypoll in December, but in a major setback, lost the Dhamnagar by-election in November -- its first by-poll defeat since 2009 -- to the BJP, which managed to retain the seat.

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Marking its advent as an industrial power, the state received investment proposals worth over Rs 10 lakh crore at the Make In Odisha (MIO) Conclave in November-December with the government claiming that if implemented, these projects would generate employment for 10.37 lakh people.

Odisha also made significant gains in controlling Naxalites as it brought down the Left-Wing Extremism-affected districts from 18 to 10.

A sensational blackmailing case also rocked the state in October as 26-year-old Archana Nag's arrest exposed a racket that allegedly extorted politicians, bureaucrats and celebrities. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is investigating the case, allegedly involving crores of rupees.

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A "fake" doctor hit the headlines after he was found to have married 18 women, besides swindling their money. Ramesh Chandra Swain, 54, of Bhagabanpur in Kendrapara district was arrested in February after the elaborate scam was unearthed.

Govind Sahu, the prime accused in the murder of a Kalahandi teacher, died in jail in December, leading to a political furore in the state as opposition parties pointed fingers at his alleged close links with BJD leaders.

The deaths of two Russian tourists -- Pavel Antov (65), a lawmaker, and his fellow traveller Vladimir Bidenov, a known Putin critic -- at a hotel in Rayagada in December brought international limelight to the sleepy town. While Antov died after allegedly falling from the hotel's third floor on December 24, Bidenov was found dead in his room on December 22.

Though there were no major cyclones, Odisha encountered back-to-back floods in the Mahanadi and Subarnarekha river systems in August, affecting over 15 lakh people.

In September, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) started the process to remove sand from 'Jagamohan' (outer temple) of the 13th-century Sun Temple in Konark. It was filled with sand 119 years ago by the then British administration to check the strength of the structure, but the sand was never removed.

The Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar was one of the venues for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, which was held in October. The state is at present preparing for the Men's Hockey World Cup, 2023 -- to be held from January 13 to January 29.

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