A Tribute to Biju Patnaik – ‘Iron Man of Odisha’
“Biju Patnaik is a remarkable Indian whose adventures would fill a book”. This statement of Sir Julian Huxley, the First Director General of UNESCO certifies that Odisha’s Ex-Chief Minister Shri Bijayanand Patnaik was the Iron man of Odisha. People of Odisha and many across the country pay rich tribute to the legend on his 97th Birthday today on March 5, 2013.
Biju Patnaik’s achievements are no less than the daring stories of the Knights. Biju Patnaik’s courage was witnessed by the whole world during the Indonesia episode in 1947. Again, his successful evacuation of the British families in Rangoon was all praised by the then British Government.
Biju Patnaik had also proved himself as a dominant national leader in Indian politics. In Odisha, he was perhaps the strongest political leader who ruled the state for two terms as Chief Minister and now his son Naveen Patnaik is also ruling for his third term. Although Biju Pattanaik is not alive today, his name has become immortal and the major political party in Odisha is also named after him – the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
In 1966 When the Central government refused to give funds to build the Paradeep port, Biju Patnaik stated, “to hell with the Govt. I will build the port with state government and my own money”. He spent Rs 1.60 billion on it. Later, of course, Nehru sanctioned funds for the project. Today that is Orissa’s most important port.
The Encyclopedia Britannica described Biju Patnaik as “Indian Politician; who parlayed his fame as a World War-II aviator, anti-British freedom fighter and commercial airline entrepreneur into a political career, notably as Chief Minister of Orissa State, 1961-63 and 1990-95”. Biju Patnaik was a real life hero and his daring achievements epithets him the ‘Iron man of Odisha’ in true sense.