Berhampur: NDA presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu has brought back the memories of Varahagiri Venkata Giri, the fourth president of the country who also had an Odisha connection. Popularly known as VV Giri, he was born and brought up in Berhampur city in Ganjam district. He died on this day in 1980. Giri served as the president from August 24, 1969, to August 24, 1974. After the end of his term, he was awarded ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1975. Giri defeated Congress nominee Neelam Sanjiva Reddy to become the president. He served as the third vice-president of India from 1967-69. Following President Zakir Hussain’s death, Giri served as acting President from May 3 to July 20, 1969.
After completing his graduation from the Khallikote College, which is now a university, Giri went to Ireland to study law at the University College Dublin. Though Giri was born and brought up in Berhampur, his political activities started in what was then Madras and he eventually became the Union Labour Minister, said JK Barala, former ViceChancellor of Berhampur University. Giri’s parents hailed from East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh and settled in Berhampur to practice as lawyers and take part in political activities, the professor of political science said.
The house where Giri was born is now a girls’ high school named after him. The civic body has also named a road here and an old market area after him. “We’re very much delighted as an Odia and a tribal woman from Mayurbhanj district is likely to be the president of the country,” said Jayant Mohapatra, a former ViceChancellor of Berhampur University. Politicians and scientists also thanked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for extending his support to Murmu’s candidature irrespective of her party affiliation.