He lives in a thatched house, rides a bicycle and spends a major portion of his MLA pension to support education of poor children.
For 64-year-old Pratap Sarangi, who once nurtured the desire to be a monk and lives an austere life, his hard work and dedication to people appear to have earned him a berth in the new Narendra Modi Government.
Sarangi, a first time parliamentarian from Balasore in Odisha, defeated Biju Janata Dal (BJD) strongman Rabindra Kumar Jena. His victory has, in a sense, facilitated the entry of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into coastal Odisha, a BJD stronghold. Sarangi also represents rural India in the council of ministers.
Sarangi, who is fondly called Nana, stands out for two key personality traits—his simple lifestyle and easy accessibility. Sarangi either used his cycle, or hired an autorickshaw, when he toured the constituency to seek votes for himself and the party, even as his ‘crorepati’ rivals in the BJD and the Congress were moving around in luxury vehicles, say local residents of Balasore.
Nana has been a two-time MLA from the Nilagiri assembly segment in Balasore as an independent candidate. In 2014, he contested from the Balasore Lok Sabha seat, but lost to the BJD’s Jena, an industrialist, by more than 142,000 votes. This time, he defeated Jena by around 13,000 votes.
Nana is a national executive member of the BJP and a core committee member of the party’s Odisha unit.
“A simple, hardworking man, reaching out to people comes easily to him. A true social worker, he uses his earnings for the education of poor children rather than creating assets for himself,” said Harekrushna Behera, a BJP worker in Bhubaneswar.
Nana believes that, as a villager, simplicity comes to him naturally and he does not make an effort to change that. After his victory in the Lok Sabha elections, he told mediapersons that a key priority for him will be better access to drinking water.
Prior to his entry into the Lok Sabha, Pratap Chandra Sarangi was twice elected to the Odisha assembly – 2004 and 2009 – from the Nilagiri assembly constituency under Balasore parliamentary constituency.
In 2004, Sarangi was elected as a saffron party candidate in the Odisha assembly. In 2009, the current Balasore MP was elected as an Independent.
A good orator, both in Odia and Sanskrit, the RSS follower, is popular for riding around villages in a bicycle. He, however, campaigned in an auto rickshaw for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019.
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