Hailing from a humble background, Patnaik not only proved his abilities in politics by becoming a Union minister, three- time chief minister as well as Governor but also displayed his versatility by excelling in literature, journalism and culture. He was also a Sanskrit scholar.
What he had once quoted in the famous Odia magazine 'Pourusha' founded by him in 1967 could well be a description of himself. "Daivayatam kule janma, madayatam cha pourasham" (being born with silver spoon may be decided by the almighty, but proving one's worth depends on the man), he had written.

Indoctrinated into politics soon after completing his education, Patnaik, who passed away at Tirupati on Tuesday, was at the centre of political activities in the state even when Congress was out of power, though, his family had no links with politics.
The Congress stalwart became chief minister in 1980 and continued in office till 1989. He bounced back to power in 1995 and remained chief minister till 1999.
Patnaik's period as chief minister was described as a 'golden age' by his loyalists who said the state made all round progress during 14 years of his rule.
He was, however, criticised for several scandals during his tenure, including the infamous Chhabirani murder case of mid 80s. The Congress stalwart was the Leader of Opposition in
Odisha Assembly from 2004 to 2009. He was appointed the Governor of Assam in 2009.  Earlier, he had served as the Union minister.
People close to him recall that as Governor of Assam, Patnaik was instrumental for the entry of women into 'Kirtan Ghar' (Sanctum Sanctorum) of Patbausi Satra in Central Assam.
Besides his political career, Patnaik was an eminent litterateur and won many literary awards. He won the Central Sahitya Akademi for his Odia translation of Bankim Chandra's novels titled 'Bankim Chandra Upanyasmala' in 2001 and Odisha Sahitya Akademi award for 'Bairagya Shataka', a translation of Bhartruhari's celebrated Sanskrit work, in 1996.
Patnaik had translated the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Shrimad Bhagvat Gita into Odia. He also wrote books on Sindhu Upatyaka and Gautam Buddha.


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