Murmu’s swearing-in was biggest moment for every Odia: Patnaik
In an editorial titled ‘E matira kanya’, Naveen Patnaik wrote that Droupadi Murmu becoming India’s 15th President added one more glorious chapter to the history of Odisha
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday said the swearing-in of President Droupadi Murmu earlier this week was the “biggest moment for every Odia” across the globe and that he was fortunate to have been part of that “golden moment in history”.
In an editorial titled ‘E matira kanya’ (daughter of this soil), that was published in several mainstream Odia dailies, Patnaik said: “July 25… 10.14 am...I Droupadi Murmu...when these words were uttered in Central Hall of Parliament, the biggest temple of democracy, it was the biggest moment for all Odias like me.”
“A daughter of Odisha’s soil, a tribal girl, a mother and a sister were ascending to the highest Constitutional position of the country. I was lucky enough to be part of that golden moment in history,” the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief said.
“My presence in the central hall of Parliament on behalf of four-and-a-half crore people of Odisha was a show of respect to the President,” he added.
President Murmu scripted history on Monday by taking oath as India’s first tribal head of State. The 64-year-old, who succeeded Ram Nath Kovind, took the oath of office in the name of god to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law”. Minutes later, in her first speech as the commander-in-chief, she commended the power of India’s democracy and the power of a poor person’s imagination.
Murmu is the symbol of aspiration and hope of crores of women in our country, Patnaik wrote in the editorial. “It’s a historical moment for women empowerment in our country. But the biggest identity of Murmu is that she is an Odia woman,” he added.
Evoking the great Kalinga king Kharavela, who ruled Odisha and many parts of northern, southern and western India in the 1st century BCE, and Gajapati king Kapilendra Dev, who ruled present day Odisha in the 14th century, Patnaik said Murmu becoming India’s 15th President added one more glorious chapter to the history of the state.
Patnaik also cited examples of his government’s efforts to create a separate space for women in politics through reservation in panchayat polls and distribution of party tickets to seven women in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In Indian society, the mother is always supreme, a symbol of creation and power, Patnaik said.
“The biggest achievement is that today more than 70 lakh women have been involved in our Mission Shakti program and are getting empowered financially. My efforts to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in Parliament and assemblies are continuing,” he wrote.
The editorials came less than a week after the BJD put up several posters of Murmu tying a rakhi to Patnaik, in Mayurbhanj district. Earlier this month, the party had also gone out of its way to woo Congress MLAs to vote for Murmu in the Presidential election held last week.
The BJD’s activities also come amid concerns over possible inroads that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was making among the tribals. Murmu’s nomination by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was seen in line with the BJP’s efforts to establish itself with tribal communities.
With polls to Lok Sabha and state assembly due in less than two years, the BJD is trying to ensure that the narrative in the state is that the ruling party was part of the decision to pick Murmu for the top constitutional post.
Patnaik cannot hide the “sins” he committed in the past when police opened fire at 13 Santhali tribals in Kalinga Nagar area of Jajpur district in 2004, over alleged acquisition of land for a steel plant, state BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said.
“The tribals had blocked the road for over a year. Did Patnaik ever go to meet any of them and console them?... The chief minister is just trying to cash in on a tribal woman becoming President of the country,” Sharma said.
Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati said that while the state government has earned huge revenue from mines located in tribal-dominated areas, the local residents continue to be neglected.
“In Rayagada, tribals are dying of cholera while in Sundargarh and Keonjhar, they are at the receiving end of mining as the run-off from the mines continue to pollute the river water they use. How much of the funds from the mining area development funds are being used for tribals?” Bahinipati said.