Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Obituary: Ex-IAS and “Chanakya of Odisha politics” Pyari Babu; 10 things to know

ON SUNDAY, Pyarimohan Mohapatra, a 1963 batch retired IAS officer and former political advisor to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik died, aged 77 years. One of the very few IAS officers playing a more exciting second innings in politics —he was also a Rajya Sabha Member—Mohapatra was instrumental in Patnaik’s rise in Odisha politics till the CM suspected Mohapatra’s “coup attempt” to topple him when he was away in London in 2012. Here are the 10 things to know about the former IAS who many fondly called as Pyari Babu:
1. Mohapatra was a 1963 batch Odisha cadre IAS who held a number of important posts at the state — chief electoral officer, Odisha for 7 years and principal secretary to the chief minister, Odisha for 4 years.
2. He also worked as development commissioner and director-general of training; and also worked in Dandakaranya Development Authority, Government of India for 6 years. For the record, Dandakaranya Development Authority is a GoI agency set up in 1958 to look after the Bengali refugees from East Pakistan by developing lands in Odisha and part of Madhya Pradesh, now Chhattisgarh.
3. Post retirement, he was a director, National Aluminum Company and Steel Authority of India. But Pyari Babu’s (as Mohapatra was fondly called) post-retirement saga turned more eventful as he became the political advisor of Naveen Patnaik. The rise of Patnaik, then a political greenhorn, was mainly scripted by Mohapatra.
4. There was a time when Mohapatra’s residence at 111, Sahid Nagar in Bhubaneswar became the real power hub of the state, prompting many to call him as “Chanakya of Odisha politics” and “Super CM”.
5. But then came the rift between the CM and his advisor. It was in June 2012, the CM was in a vacation in London, and it was suspected that Mohapatra tried to topple the CM. 
6. Later, Mohapatra was expelled from the Biju Janata Dal, and he began a not-so-successful journey as a member of Odisha Jana Morcha.
7. A BA (Hons.) in economics and MA in political science, Mohapatra also did a course at London School of Economics (LSE).
8. He is survived by his wife Prativa Mohapatra, two sons and two daughters.
9. On social side, Mohapatra was associated with a number of organizations. For example, he was the founder chairman of Board of Governors at Council of Analytical Tribal Studies, Koraput, chairman of Tagore Society for Rural Development, Orissa Projects, Bhubaneswar, and president of Jagannath Mandir, Koraput.
10. After Mohapatra's death, 1996 batch IAS Aravind Padhee took to Twitter to say the following: “RIP #PyariMohanMohapatra. Our IAS batch was trained by him as DG, Gopabandhu Academy. Jagannath temple, Koraput his biggest contribution.”


  1. Just a reminder that with retirement proximity to politicians should also come to an end, as civil servant does not survive those murky waters.

  2. He was really chanakya of politics and his excellency far beyond to cover esp BJD in odisha,However some wrong decision makes abandoned saga.