BHUBANESWAR: In keeping with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's concerted attempts at projecting a 'People's Government' by dismantling symbolisms of authority, the State on Wednesday announced to address freedom fighters as 'Honourable' while removing the prefix from all other public functionaries other than constitutional authorities.
According to a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office, the State Government has decided to accord due honour to them for their invaluable contribution to the freedom movement.
Odisha is the first State in the country to address freedom fighters as 'Hon'ble'. This apart, people holding constitutional posts will also be addressed 'Honourable' at public functions.
The freedom fighters have lauded the decision. Former Rajya Sabha member Bhabani Charan Pattanayak said, "freedom fighters in all States should get the honour. It is good that Odisha accorded it first and set an example for others. But the State Government should make it clear whether freedom fighters of all three categories will be addressed with honourable."
The State has three categories of freedom fighters. Those who have been jailed for more than six months come under first category and those jailed for less than six months are considered as second category. Non-jailed freedom fighters fall under third category.
While the first category gets Central pension of Rs 29,000 and State pension of Rs 8,000 a month, the second and third category freedom fighters get only State pension of Rs 10,000 and Rs 9,000 respectively.
In yet another significant decision, the Chief Minister has directed abolition of the British-era practice of according 'Guard of Honour' to Chief Minister, ministers and other senior Government officials at public events. Now onwards, only the chief guests will be accorded Guard of Honour on special occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day and Utkal Divas.
The directive, however, will not be applicable to President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Governor, Lokayukta, Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court and High Court. The practice of Guard of Honour for them will continue as usual, the statement added.
Naveen was, in fact, the first Chief Minister to take the red beacon off his official car hours after the Union Cabinet decided to end the VVIP culture in the country in 2017. He had also directed withdrawal of red beacons from vehicles of all VIPs of the State.
The Government had also announced renaming of the State Secretariat as Lok Seva Bhawan recently.