BHUBANESWAR: Ruling BJD MLAs on Tuesday made a strong pitch for conferring Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country, on legendary Biju Patnaik.
The ruling party members urged Speaker Niranjan Pujari that the House pass a resolution to press the Centre for giving Bharat Ratna to Biju Patnaik and install his portrait in the Parliament.
Describing Biju Patnaik as a visionary leader, senior BJD leader Bed Prakash Agarwal, who worked as finance minister under him during his second stint as chief minister from 1990-95, said Patnaik’s contribution in nation building is immeasurable.
Initiating the debate on a Government sponsored motion on freedom struggle and role of Biju Patnaik in nation building in the Assembly, Agarwal said he was the founding father of industrialisation in the State.
The senior BJD leader said the financial condition of the State was in a total mess when Biju Babu took over the reins in 1990. As finance minister, he had to take some harsh fiscal compression measures to bring back the State’s economy on rail.
Recalling Biju Babu’s bicycle ride to Secretariat as a symbolic measure of financial austerity, Agarwal said it had a huge impact on Government officials and the public as well.
Industry Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said Biju Patnaik was the man behind industrial progress of the State. Rourkela Steel Plant, Paradip Port, Express Highway and many other things could be possible due to his endeavours to see rapid progress of Odisha.
Stating that Biju Babu had made significant contribution to development of education in the State, Mishra said the Regional Engineering College (now NIT) at Rourkela and the Odisha University of Agriculture and University (OUAT) were possible.
Sharing his experience with the great leader, Debasis Nayak, who worked as his private secretary, said Biju Babu always tried to help the poor and downtrodden. Many people are not aware that he had taken care of education expenses of at least 600 poor students without even knowing them personally.
Among others, Rural Development Minister Badrinarayan Patra, Minister of State for Steel and Mines Prafulla Mallick, MSME Minister Jogendra Behera, former ministers Jugal Kishore Patnaik, Prafulla Samal and Nrusingha Sahu also participated in the discussion.
The discussion on the motion will continue on Wednesday even as the Opposition Congress and BJP boycotted the House protesting suspension of Congress MLA Naba Kishore Das.