Before he smoked the peace pipe and switched over to the ruling Biju Janata Dal in 2019, Odisha's Health and Family Affairs Minister Naba Kishore Das was among a handful Congress politicians who could keep winning elections despite the steady decimation of the party in the state.
A popular leader from tribal-dominated western Odisha and a rival-turned-confidante of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Das succumbed to bullet injuries after being shot by a police officer deployed for his security on Sunday. He was 60.
Das, a law graduate, was in politics from his college days and was elected as the Students' Union president at Gangadhar Meher College at Sambalpur, one of the oldest colleges in western Odisha.
He later became vice-president of Odisha National Students' Union of India (NSUI) and Odisha Youth Congress before becoming a member of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC).
His rise was steady -- All India Congress Committee (AICC) member and one of the working presidents of the OPCC - over the last two decades.
Hailing from the mining town of Jharsugada, Das is believed to have been one of the richest members of Patnaik's cabinet and had properties worth Rs 34 crore according to a property statement filed in 2022.
Besides huge real estate holdings, the politician is believed to have had about 80 vehicles.
Described by Patnaik on Sunday as 'grass root person', Das won his first state election from Jharsuguda in 2009 on a Congress ticket by defeating BJD candidate Kishore Kumar Mohanty.
He was again elected from Jharsuguda in 2014 by defeating Mohanty.
However, 5 years later he decided that he needed to jump ship to join the very party he had been fighting against.
He is believed to have told the Congress leadership that his 'people wanted him to be with Naveen Patnaik'.
Das was also known for his organisational skill of which he gave ample proof when he managed the recent Padampur by-polls, where despite fears that it would be a neck-to-neck fight, the BJD candidate won by a handsome over 42,000 votes.
Considered a close confidant of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Das, who took oath as a minister of health and family welfare on May 29, 2019, continued in the same portfolio even when the chief minister came up with an overhaul of his cabinet last June.
The health minister's pro-active role during the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly ensured this vote of confidence by the BJD Supremo.
Das is survived by wife Minati Das and a son and a daughter.
Naba Kisore, as his name indicates, was also a great devotee of Lord Krishna and was known for his generous donations to charity and to temples.