Veteran Congress leader, multiple term Bihar MLA and former Lok Sabha member Ramdeo Rai, who had caused ripples in the 1980s when he defeated socialist heavyweight Karpoori Thakur in an electoral contest, died here on Saturday. The 81-year-old sitting MLA from Bachhwara in Begusarai district, breathed his last at a private hospital in Patna, where he had been admitted for a few months and suffered a cardiac arrest in the morning, party sources said.
Condoling his demise, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar remembered Rai as a "sweet natured, soft-spoken and simple" political leader whose death felt to him like a "personal loss". A die-hard Congress leader, Rai had registered his maiden electoral victory in the 1972 assembly polls and retained the seat five years later despite the massive Janata Party wave.
In 1985, he plunged into the Lok Sabha polls and, moving base to Samastipur which was Thakurs stronghold, earned the reputation of a giant-killer by defeating the former chief minister, riding the wave generated in favour of the Congress in the wake of assassination of Indira Gandhi.
He parted ways with his party, though, for a brief period when in February, 2005 the Congress gave up Bachhwara seat in favour of its then alliance partner, Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party, and succeeded in winning it with the support of the JD(U)-BJP coalition.
In 2015, he contested as the candidate of the Grand Alliance which then comprised the chief ministers party, the latters arch rival Lalu Prasad, and the Congress and wrested back the seat after defeats in two consecutive state assembly elections.
Condolence messages were also issued by assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, a former Congressman himself who has been with the JD(U) for more than a decade, and senior Congress leader Tariq Anwar who headed the party's Bihar unit in the 1980s.