Bhubaneswar: Senior BJD leader and Digapahandi MLA Surya Narayan Patro was unanimously elected as the new Speaker of the Odisha Legislative Assembly.
The 71-year-old leader has been elected to the Assembly seven times in a row. Hailing from Berhampur, Patro was elected to the Assembly from Digapahandi this time by defeating his nearest rival – BJP’s Pinky Pradhan by a margin of over 40,000 votes.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik moved a motion and proposed Patro’s name for the Speaker’s post which was seconded by Parliamentary Affairs Minister BK Arukha.
Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra along with Patnaik welcomed Patro as soon as Pro-tem Speaker Amar Prasad Satpathy announced his name as the 22nd Speaker of the Odisha Assembly.
Earlier, BJD supremo and CM Patnaik had announced Patro’s name for the constitutional post. As the party has 112 MLAs in the 147-member House, no election was warranted and he was elected unopposed.
Popularly known as anna (brother), Patro made his political debut in 1977 by contesting for a councillor’s post in Berhampur Municipality in 1977. He was first elected to the Assembly in 1990 from the Mohana segment in Gajapati district. He moved to Digaphandi after Mohana declared reserved for ST category.
And since 1990, the veteran leader has held different Ministerial portfolios, including Fisheries, Animal Resources Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Environment, Tourism, Information Technology, Revenue and Disaster Management, Information and Public Relations, Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Welfare in Biju Patnaik and Naveen Patnaik Governments.
With his election as the Speaker, Patro became the fourth from Ganjam district after Lingaraj Panigrahy (1961 to 67), Somanath Rath (1980 to 1984) and Chintamani Dyansamantara (1996 to 2000) to hold the constitutional position.