Maharaja Bhanj Deo first and only pro-democracy ruler

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Baripada, Dec 16 (UNI) Very few people know that Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanj Deo, who ruled the erstwhile princely state of Mayurbhanj from 1882 to 1912, granted his people the privilege of contesting the validity of his orders.

The Maharaja, the most popular among the rulers of the Bhanja dynasty, was perhaps the first and the only feudal chief, who had introduced deliberate limitations on his own powers by adopting a quasi-constitutional policy. This was one of the many landmark decisions that the king took during his 30-year rule in Mayurbhanj,'' Chairman of the Mayurbhanj Chapter of the ''Utkal Sammilani'' Dipak Kumar Sarangi said on the eve of the 137th birthday celebrations of the Maharaja here tomorrow.

The birth anniversary is being celebrated here jointly by the Mayurbhanj Chapter of Utkal Sammilani, Baripada Sahitya Sansad and Baripada Municipality.

Mr Sarangi recalled how the Maharaja had established the Mayurbhanj State Council during the early part of his rule so that the people could appeal against his own orders.

His magnanimity transcended beyond the boundaries of Mayurbhanj as was evident from his presidential speech at the inaugural session of the Utkal Sammilani held at Idga Padia at Cuttack in December 1903, Mr Sarangi added.

A true democrat, the Maharaja gave his people the right to participate in self-governance through establishment of Orissa's first Local Self Government Institution - the Baripada Municipality way back in 1905, Prof Sarangi further pointed out.


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