BHUBANESWAR: Recommending Bharat Ratna for the late Biju Patnaik, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda today said the legendary Odisha leader had played a key role in making him the chief minister of Karnataka and also the prime minister of the country.
Gowda made the suggestion after former President Pranab Mukherjee and other leaders unveiled a pictorial biography on the former Odisha chief minister titled "The Tall Man Biju Patnaik," here.
"Keeping in view his all-round activities and achievements, I strongly feel that Biju Patnaik deserves the country's highest civilian award (Bharat Ratna)," Gowda said to a loud applause from the audience here.
He said Biju Patnaik has already been conferred with the "Bhumi Putra" honour by Indonesian government.
Deve Gowda, while lauding the life and actions of the legendary leader said: "Biju Patnaik played a major role in making me the chief minister of Karnataka as well as the prime minister of India."
Recalling his personal experience, Gowda said there was nothing impossible for Biju Patnaik.
Mukherjee, while calling himself the "shortest man", said: "It's a privilege for me to speak on the tallest man of the country. He was not only tall in height but also a large hearted person I have seen."
Narrating his personal relationship with the legendary leader, Maukherjee said Biju Patnaik used to be invited to New Delhi from Bhubaneswar during national crisis.
"Irrespective of party lines, Biju Patnaik used to give valuable suggestions to all for the sake of the country.
As minister of state for finance in the Indira Gandhi council of ministers, I have consulted Biju Patnaik several times on different ocassions," Mukherjee recalled.
Mukherjee also recalled how Biju Patnaik was instrumental in setting up National Aluminium Company (Nalco) in Odisha.
Mukherjee said when he was deputy chairman of the then Planning Commission, he consulted Biju Patnaik before making any plan or policy.
"Though we are from different political parties, Biju Patnaik's affection towards me and my family was immense," he said, describing Patnaik as the true legend.
Former deputy prime minister L K Advani said he was overwehlmed when he received an invitation to participate in the book release function of Biju Patnaik.
"He was a great politician. This book is a great honour to him," Advani said.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury recalled how as a young politician, he drew inspiration from Patnaik. He also descirbed Patnaik as a great politician having certain ideology and pro-poor policies.
"Biju Babu was working for secularism and national integration. It will be great honour for him if we work in the path shown by him," Yechury said.
Besides leaders of national repute, politicians from different parties including Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Narasingha Mishra of Congress, senior BJP leaders Bijoy Mohapatra, Biswabhusan Harichandan and former BJD vice president Prafulla Ghadei also attended the event.
Hundreds of Biju Patnaik’s followers also attended the unveiling ceremony of the book authored by eminent writer and researcher Sundar Ganesan.
The pictorial biography encapsulates rare photographs of Patnaik's life.
Senior journalist and columnist Prabhu Chawla reviewed the biography while the book release ceremony was presided over by Biju Patnaik’s son Naveen.
Before the launch of the pictorial biography, Naveen Patnaik also had lunch with the four leaders at his residence 'Naveen Niwas'.
In a Twitter post, the chief minister wrote, "It was great pleasure to have enlightened company of Shri @CitiznMukherjee, Shri HD Deve Gowda, Shri L K Advani & Shri @SitaramYechury at Naveen Niwas. Had wonderful interaction over our much loved #Pakhala & Odia delicacies #PiajaPeetha #SagaBadi #Drumstickfry & famed #Chhenapoda.”