Biju Patnaik’s birth anniversary: Known and unknown facts about the statesman

Bhubaneswar: As Odisha is celebrating the birth anniversary of late Chief Minister Biju Patnaik in a grand way today, curiosity runs high among today’s generation to know many things about the legendary leader.

Biju Patnaik, a name etched in every heart of Odia people, was a visionary leader.  He was known as the ‘Tall Leader’, ‘Iron Man of Odisha’ and ‘Kalinga Putra’. Apart from it, he was popularly known as ‘Biju Babu’ among the mass.

On his birth anniversary here are some facts about the legendary political leader.
  1. Biju Patnaik’s full name was Bijayananda Patnaik.
  2. He was born to Ashalata Devi, a Bengali mother, and father Lakshiminarayan, who was Odia, on March 5, 1916 in Cuttack. His ancestors were from G.Nuagan, Bellaguntha of Ganjam District.
  3. Biju Patnaik was a trained pilot as he was interested in aviation, so he was dropped out from Ravenshaw College.
  4. He was honoured by the British rulers for his bravery of releasing some British families during Second World War who were imprisoned by Japanese.
  5. UNESCO Kalinga Prize was founded by Biju Pattnaik in 1951 for the popularization of Science. He was also awarded “Bintang Jasu Utama” on Indonesia’s 50th Independence Day.
  6. Biju Patnaik and his wife Gyan named the then Indonesian President Sukarno’s daughter “Megawati”.
  7. During the Sino-Indian War in 1962, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru consulted Biju Patnaik for advice. He was believed to be very close to Nehru.
  8. Biju Patnaik was known for his daredevilry act as a pilot. He had formed the Kalinga Airline in 1947. The airline had 15 Dakota planes parked at its headquarters in Kolkata. The aircrafts were chiefly used by the army for transport of jawans deployed in Kashmir. Kalinga Airline’s DC-3s were also used to drop supplies at north-eastern area of the country and providing services to the army personnel in north-east area of the country.
  9. Biju Patnaik had rescued former Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir from their enemies on July 22, 1947. He was given honorary citizenship in Indonesia and was awarded with the highest civilian award “Bhoomi Putra”, a rare honour given to any foreigner.
  10. In 1966, when the Central government refused to give funds for building up Paradeep Port, Biju Patnaik stated,” To hell with the Govt, I will build the port with state government and my own money”.
  11. He was an avid Bridge player and a cyclist too. Many a time, he was spotted cycling to the State Secretariat. When he was studying, he had cycled all the way from Cuttack to Peshawar(Now in Pakistan) to spread the message of humanity.
  12. During Emergency declared in 1975, Biju Patnaik was one of the leaders arrested to oppose then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian rule. He was released from jail in 1977.
  13. The current ruling party in Odisha, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was named after Biju Pattnaik to fulfill his dreams.
  14. Biju Patnaik had not breathed his last at his residence in Bhubaneswar ‘Naveen Niwas’. During his last days, he had preferred to stay at home of former union minister and his confidante Dilip Ray, whom he loved like a son.
  15. Odisha government has been celebrating Panchayati Raj Day on March 5 every year to mark Biju Babu’s birth anniversary.
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