BHUBANESWAR: JB Patnaik, who dominated Odisha’s political scene for more than three decades, was also an acclaimed writer.
Winner of the Central Sahitya Akademi award for his Odia translation of Bankim Chandra’s novels titled ‘Bankim Chandra Upanyasmala’ in 2001, Patnaik also won the Odisha Sahitya Akademi award for his book ‘Bairagya Shataka’, a translation of Bhartruhari’s celebrated Sanskrit work in 1996.
He also translated The Mahabharat, The Ramayana and the Shrimad Bhagbat Gita into Odia. His other works were ‘Sindhu Upatyaka’ and ‘Gautam Buddha’. A lover of Sanskrit, Patnaik was the Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha in Tirupati.
Other than his contribution in the field of politics, Patnaik influenced the growth of Odia language and worked towards its declaration as the official language of Odisha. The Shree Jagannath Sanskrit University at Puri was also another achievement of Patnaik for growth of Sanskrit language.
His adeptness in Sanskrit language had earned him the title ‘Prajnana Vachaspati’, a highest doctorate degree of a university.
Born on January 3, 1927 at Rameswar in Khurdha district, Patnaik was the chief minister for two consecutive terms from 1980 to 1989 and then again from 1995 to 1999. Patnaik laid the foundation for the industrial growth of Odisha during his chief ministership and opened avenues for small scale entrepreneurs.
Elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1971 from the prestigious Cuttack Lok Sabha seat, Patnaik served in the Cabinet of Indira Gandhi as Civil Aviation, Tourism and Labour Minister in 1980. He was Deputy Minister of Defence in Indira Gandhi’s Council of Ministers from 1973 to 1975 and became the Minister of State for Defence till 1977.
Patnaik, appointed Governor of Assam in 2009, was among the few appointed by the UPA Government who were allowed to complete their full term by the NDA Government. He was also the president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) for four times (1977-1980, 1992-98, 1999-2001 and 2003-04).
He was the Leader of the Opposition in Odisha Assembly from 2004 to 2009. He was elected to the Odisha Assembly five times and twice to the Lok Sabha.