Hemananda Biswal, Odisha’s first tribal chief minister and the state’s last Congress chief minister, passed away on Friday at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar following a brief illness. He was 82.
Biswal, a Bhuyan tribal from Jharsuguda, served as chief minister twice, from 1989 to 1990 and again from 1999 to 2000. After the Congress(I) was routed in the Lok Sabha elections, he replaced then-chief minister JB Patnaik in December 1989. He was re-elected chief minister in December 1999, after former chief minister Giridhari Gamang was removed for failing to provide assistance and rehabilitation in the aftermath of the 1999 super storm that ravaged the Odisha coast.
Biswal got his start in politics as the head of the Kirimira Panchayat Samiti in the Jharsuguda district. In 1974, he was first elected to the Odisha legislature from the Laikera constituency. He was elected as an MLA six times from the same seat in the legislature. He was elected to the Sundargarh Legislative Assembly in 2009.