PM Modi pays tribute to ‘visionary leader’ Biju Patnaik on his 108th birth anniversary | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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PM Modi pays tribute to ‘visionary leader’ Biju Patnaik on his 108th birth anniversary

ByDebabrata Mohanty
Mar 05, 2024 11:59 AM IST

Modi’s visit to Odisha coinciding with the occasion comes amid demands by the BJD to posthumously award Bharat Ratna to the third chief minister of the state

Amid speculations of a pre-poll alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and calls for Bharat Ratna for former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid tributes to the veteran leader on his 108th birth anniversary ahead of his visit to the state.

Former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik. (HT File Photo)
Former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik. (HT File Photo)

“I pay homage to the legendary Biju Patnaik Ji on his birth anniversary. His visionary leadership and indomitable spirit continue to inspire generations. His contributions to our nation and his unwavering commitment to development are exemplary,” Modi wrote in a post on X.

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Modi added that he was looking forward to being among the people of Odisha to inaugurate various projects in Chandikhole. “I will also address a BJP public meeting.”

Odisha chief minister and Patnaik’s younger son Naveen Patnaik took to X and wrote, “Tributes to Biju Patnaik, the creator of modern Odisha, great freedom fighter and former Chief Minister /on his birth anniversary. The blueprint he drew to strengthen development involving people from all sections of the society is still guiding us. Let’s remember the contribution of those development men and glorify the identity of Orthodox nationalism. To further strengthen the resolution of forming New Odisha.”

Senior BJP leader and Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari paid “humble homage to the freedom fighter” on his birth anniversary.

Modi’s visit coinciding with the occasion comes amid demands by the BJD to posthumously award Bharat Ratna to the third chief minister of Odisha. Senior BJD leader Prasanna Acharya said Biju Patnaik’s innumerable exploits as a pilot, from ferrying soldiers of the Sikh regiment to counter the Pakistan-backed invasion of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 to flying out former Indonesian prime minister Sutan Sjahrir and vice-president Mohammad Hatta from Jakarta, are legendary.

“Though he should have been awarded Bharat Ratna long ago, it’s never too late. The service that he has rendered to the country is unmatchable. He will remain not just an inspiration for Odia, but the entire country for his courage and daredevilry,” Acharya said.

Modi is scheduled to arrive in Bhubaneswar at 2.40pm and proceed to Chandikhol in Jajpur district by an Mi-17 helicopter where he will lay foundation stones and inaugurate projects worth 19,600 crore. He will also flag off a MEMU train on the Haridashpur-Paradeep railway line, the first ever passenger train to the key coastal district of Kendrapada, considered the political capital of Odisha. Naveen Patnaik will also attend the functions.

Around 4.15pm, PM Modi will address a public meeting at Chandikhol, his second public address in Odisha after Sambalpur on February 3, where he addressed Patnaik as his friend.

Last month, the BJD supported Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s re-election to the Rajya Sabha. Many believe a tie-up between the two parties will help BJP close in on its target of 400 seats in the Lok Sabha elections.

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