While 2019 is drawing for a close, we take you through the events which often became the talking point over various discussion platforms. Be it over coffee, lunch or dinner, they grabbed enough eyeballs and earned the tag of being the ‘newsmakers’ of this year.
1. Pradeep Maharathy
Prior to the assembly elections, six-time Odisha MLA and BJD nominee for the year, Pradeep Maharathy was arrested on April 22, on charges of orchestrating attack on the flying squad of the Election Commission of India (ECI). Maharathy was picked from his farmhouse at Hunkeipur village near Pipili in Puri. After receiving information about Maharathy distributing cash and liquor in his farmhouse to influence votes, a flying squad comprising of a Magistrate, police official and others went to the farmhouse to ascertain veracity of the allegations. According to reports, the squad was attacked as soon as they tried to enter the farmhouse and severely beaten following which they had to run for safety. Maharathy was summoned to the Pipili Police Station for interrogation leading to his arrest.
2. Damodar Rout
Veteran politician, Biju loyalist and former Odisha minister Damodar Rout resigned from the BJP on October 16, ending just over six month association with the BJP. After being expelled from BJD last September for anti-party statements, Rout had joined BJP in March 2019, prior to the assembly elections. But the former Paradip MLA expressed resentment over the matter that BJP did not include him in the list of star campaigners for the Bijepur bypoll. He later stated that after the conclusion of the General Elections, his presence and involvement in the party was not being felt necessary. Thus, he resigned from the party.
3 GC Murmu
Girish Chandra Murmu, a native of Betnoti in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, became the first lieutenant Governor of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir after he was sworn-in to the office on October 31. His oath was administered by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice Gita Mittal at the Raj Bhawan. Murmu, a 1985 batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, had earlier worked as the additional principal secretary of PM Narendra Modi when the latter was the Gujarat Chief Minister.
4. Ashwini Vaishnaw
In a surprising move, the BJP, on June 21, nominated former bureaucrat Ashwini Vaishnaw as its Rajya Sabha nominee and the ruling BJD ensured his victory by extending support, despite having comfortable numbers for its candidate. This attracted speculations over the dynamics that both the rival parties shared. Grapevine had it that BJP might vouch for BJD’s Bhatruhari Mahtab for the post of deputy speaker in the Lok Sabha, in return.
5. Dutee Chand
It was an eventful year for Odisha’s ace sprinter Dutee Chand. The Jajpur girl received much media glare for speaking up about her sexuality. Controversies apart, she featured in the Time 100 Next 2019 list and was also named the country’s Sportsperson of the Year by Vogue India. India’s fastest woman bagged gold in women’s 200 m event at the 59th National Open Athletics Championships-2019 held in Ranchi. Clocking 11.22 seconds in the semi-finale of 100m, she broke her own national record of 11.26 seconds which she had set at the Asian Athletics Championship-2019 in Doha, Qatar.
Dutee is India’s first professional athlete to come out as a member of the LGBTQ community and she also starred in the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India ad for International Animal Rights Day.
6. Pramod Bhagat
Odisha’s ace para-badminton player Pramod Bhagat was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award at the National Sports Awards ceremony on August 29 at Rashtrapati Bhawan. He received the award comprising of a statuette, a citation and Rs 5 lakh from President Ram Nath Kovind.
Bhagat had a spectacular run this year with two gold medals in the singles and doubles events and one silver medal at the men’s doubles event of the IWAS World Games. He also ranked as the World No.1 Para-Badminton player in SL3 category.
7. Baijayant Panda
The national vice president of BJP Baijayant Panda was in the news for quite a long time during the simultaneous elections held in May this year. Baijayant aka Jay was contesting from Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat against actor-turned-politician Anubhav Mohanty. All eyes were on this seat considered as the stronghold of BJD. It was no less than a prestige battle for the ruling party. Stakes were high on both sides. While Jay was fighting to retain his seat, Anubhav was pitted against as BJD’s safe bet. Anubhav trounced his opponent by a mammoth margin.
8. Bijoy Mohapatra
The veteran politician is regarded as the chanakya of Odisha politics. Bijoy Mohapatra, who was often sulking for being not given prominence in party, was fielded from Patkura assembly segment against BJD’s Sabitri Agarwal, widow of Vedprakash Agarwal. The astute politician – founder member of BJD and arch rival of Naveen Patnaik – had to bite the dust in this year’s assembly election from Patkura constituency. Had Mohapatra been elected to the assembly, he would have ended the 19-year dry spell.
9. Chandrani Murmu
The 25-year-old became the youngest Lok Sabha member after winning the Keonjhar Lok Sabha seat. She won by a whopping margin of over 60,000 votes. The tribal girl is a B Tech grad from a Bhubaneswar-based engineering college. Prior to her entry into politics, she was preparing for competitive examinations. Besides being the youngest MP, she was also in news over a sex tape controversy. A sex video went viral on social media platforms purportedly of the parliamentarian, months before she was elected to the lower house.
10 . Debamitra Biswal
Thirty eight-year-old Debamitra Biswal from Bhubaneswar rose to fame after she debuted in Bollywood as a director with her movie ‘Motichoor Chaknachoor’. The movie featuring popular actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Athiya Shetty was released on November 15. The movie created a buzz much before its release due to its comic dialogues delivered by both the stars . Earlier, Biswal had worked as a creative director for shows like ‘Lapataganj’ and ‘Gili Gili Gappa’.