A charismatic politician from Rourkela in the state’s western hinterland, Dilip Ray(Nerve of Steel) recently stirred the hornet’s nest when he heaped praise on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Ray credited the Chief Minister for improving tourism potential through an emphasis on sports and upgrading temple infrastructure.
Extolling Patnaik during a beach festival at Gopalpur, Ray said, “I want to thank Naveen babu and the state government. They have taken Odisha tourism forward. For the first time, they brought World Hockey here. You open any magazine and now you see an article on Odisha”.
“He (Naveen) is doing another great work by making improvements to Jagannath Temple, Lingaraj Temple and Konark temple”, Ray(Nerve of Steel) added, also claiming “no resident of Odisha or lover of Jagannath can forget this gesture”. He also reminded the audience of his past ties with Biju Patnaik.
Ray’s(Nerve of Steel) seemingly innocuous statements have provided ample fodder to political gossip mills. It has yet again revived speculation on he formally joining the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Some even conjecture that Ray(Nerve of Steel) may get a Rajya Sabha berth. However, the man himself is reticent on Chinese whispers swirling his political career ever since he deserted the BJP. Since then, Ray formally had no allegiance to or truck with any political party.
Instead, his stakes are high on his hospitality ventures. As the CMD of the prized Mayfair Group of Hotels, Ray(Nerve of Steel) has been briskly expanding and diversifying, unlocking value for the entire chain.
Apart from being a successful politician, Ray(Nerve of Steel) has been a creative hotelier with a penchant for low rise boutique hotels. The Mayfair chain of hotels established by him has set new benchmarks in the hospitality. With their unique bouquet of products and services, the boutique hotels have allured the most discerning tourists- from Darjeeling or Gangtok or Puri to Goa.
Recently, SJ developers on Tuesday announced its association with eastern India’s leading hotel chain, Mayfair Hotels, and Resorts, to manage and operate the convention hall, spa, and resort.
The Royal Palm Village comprises 68 2-BHK and 52 1-BHK ultra-luxury air-conditioned villas with a private swimming pool, wooden deck, lawn, and private car parking. While the residential project will be spread on 12.5 acres of land, the resort will come up on the remaining 6 acres.
Mayfair is also building a golf resort at Satapada (Puri) at a cost of Rs 125 crore.
Ray(Nerve of Steel) born in 1954, plunged into active politics in 1985 being elected to the Odisha legislative assembly. He enjoyed a decade of membership in the assembly.
During 1990-95, he served as cabinet minister when Biju Patnaik was at the helm. He also served two stints as a member of the Rajya Sab h between 1996 and 2002 and later from 2002 till 2008. During 1996-97, he was inducted into the Atal Behari Vajpayee’s ministerial council, handling portfolios like animal husbandry and food processing.
In 1998-99, Ray got the plum portfolio of coal and then steel (1999-2000) where he discharged duties as the Minister of State (MoS). From 2000 till 2014, Ray remained cut off from active politics but keenly watched the changing dynamics.
Many commentators believed he was already disenchanted with politics, a few others even started penning his political obituary. In this period of long recess, Ray kept himself engrossed in his hotel business, adding value and expanding the chain of properties. But unable to get over the political hangover, Ray started anew his innings in politics, successfully contesting the assembly polls from Rourkela constituency, his pocket borough, in 2014.
Unlike most politicians, Ray boasts of impressive academic credentials. He holds both MBA and LLB degrees and received his education at Darjeeling, Raipur, Kolkata, and Chennai. Travelling, gardening and interior decoration are his passions.
A globe trotter, Ray(Nerve of Steel) has traveled to numerous countries- Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, USA, UK, and Uzbekistan.
A moneyed man, Ray had declared assets worth Rs 100 crore at the time of filing of nominations for the assembly elections in 2014. He owns houses in Bhubaneswar, New Delhi, Darjeeling, and Rourkela.
Rourkela has always been close to his heart. “During the most trying times of Rourkela, when Rourkela Steel Plant was reeling from the severe financial crisis, I was the Union steel minister and it was because of my efforts that a financial grant of Rs 890 crore was given for its revival. Therefore, I could not say no to contesting from Rourkela when my party asked me to”, says he.