Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 5:
Odisha celebrated the birth centenary of its former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik with great fanfare today. Various events were organised across the state by the Government, political parties and public alike to mark the occasion.
“Beyond narrow politics, Biju Babu was a freedom fighter, an ace pilot, a visionary industrialist and a statesman. The state is paying rich tributes to the charioteer of the Odia race today. Millions of Biju admirers cutting across party lines and other boundaries are celebrating his birth centenary. Statues of Biju Patnaik across the state have been decked up and public meetings are held in his memory,” said BJD MLA Amar Prasad Satapathy.
In Bhubaneswar, his son and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik marked the beginning of the celebration by garlanding the statue of Biju Patnaik in the BJD party office premises. Later an 18 foot statue of the late leader was unveiled at Biju Patnaik International Airport of Bhubaneswar.
A mini marathon was also held in the city that was flagged off by Sports & Youth Services Minister Sudam Marandi. It started from Forest Park and culminated at Kalinga Stadium. Overall 3,175 people including 441 women from Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand participated in the event.
“We have organised this marathon to create nationalistic spirit among the youth. The participation was even more spontaneous and enthusiastic given the birth centenary celebrations of Biju Babu, who happened to be a sports lover,” said Marandi.
Biju Janata Dal, later in the day, organised a large state-level memorial meeting at Baramunda that was attended by most frontline leaders and thousands of supporters of the party. Odisha Government has named the day Panchayati Raj Divas and has organised several different functions too.
A mini-marathon was also held in his birthplace Cuttack. It started from Tulasipur and was attended by hundreds of school students. Besides, a walkathon was organised by Odisha Veteran Sportspersons’ Association that was flagged off by BJD MLA Ranendra Pratap Swain. Hundreds of senior citizens and sportspersons participated in it among others.
In Rourkela, BJP leader Dillip Ray organised a public meeting in memory of his former mentor.
Apart from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, memorial meetings were held across all 314 blocks of the state by Biju Janata Dal, Odisha Government and other civil society organisations to remember the late leader.