Pratap Chandra Sarangi, an RSS ideologue who took the oath of office as Minister of State on Thursday, is not associated with things that politicians are usually known for. While his political rivals can boast of largesse election campaigning using luxury cars in tow and employing professional services, Sarangi hired auto-rickshaws to seek votes for himself and relied mostly on his upright stance and in-depth knowledge on a vast range of issues.
He is popular among the masses for his sharp intellect, his firebrand oratory skills in both Odia and Sanskrit, and riding around the villages in a bicycle.
Sarangi, who comes from a humble background, is loved for his selfless service and widely respected across Odisha for his honesty. According to reports, few days after Cyclone Fani ravaged parts of Odisha, he rendered his selfless service and tirelessly cleaned the broken tree branches strewn around in the coastal town of Puri. Even earlier, he could be spotted eating vada and aalu chop from roadside vendors in Bhubaneswar.
Riding on a strong wave of support, he won the 2019 General elections from Balasore Lok Sabha seat in Odisha even though he was pitted against two prominent millionaire candidates – BJD’s Rabindra Kumar Jena and Congress candidate Nabajyoti Patnaik. In a close contest, he defeated Jena with a margin of 12,956 votes. On the one side, he had sitting MP and politician-cum-industrialist Rabindra Kumar Jena in contest, while on the other hand, he faced a serious challenge from Congress state president and nominee Nabajyoti Patnaik, who enjoyed a family legacy in politics.
Sarangi has served as a two-time MLA from Nilagiri seat in Balasore as an independent candidate and has been known for raising issues of public importance. In the 2014 general elections, he had contested on a BJP ticket from Balasore Lok Sabha seat but lost to Jena by 1.42 lakh votes.
Interestingly, PM Modi campaigned for Sarangi in Balasore and now he has inducted Sarangi into his council of ministers.
His own goodwill among the voters, supplemented by PM Narendra Modi’s wave, and his image of a Hindutva leader acted as a catalyst in his journey to the Parliament.