New Delhi, Nov 20:

Vice President Hamid Ansari on Sunday paid rich tributes to former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik on his birth centenary celebrations here, calling him a man of unimpeachable integrity and a true nationalist.


“Biju Patnaik was not just a political leader; he was also an aeronautical engineer, an air force pilot, an entrepreneur, a man of unimpeachable integrity and a freedom fighter. He was a true nationalist, and still the interests of his beloved Odisha always were close to his heart,” Ansari said.

He recalled Patnaik’s standing, which was such that “in a rare occurrence, national flags of three nations — India, Indonesia and the USSR — were draped on his body at funeral”.

The Vice President said Patnaik was a firm believer in democracy and a socialist by heart, who shared independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision of an India steeped in scientific temper and saw technology as the key to solve India’s myriad problems.

He said the Odiya leader strongly believed in socialism and federalism and that he had a vision for the growth and development of his beloved Odisha. He praised him for wanting dismantling of agrarian feudalism and its replacement by industrial revolution.

“I join you all today as we pay respects to a great leader, a hero to his people — a visionary, an ideologist who inspired adventurous ideas,” Ansari said.

“He lives on, not only in the memories of people who have met him but people who have heard of him and read about him. His legacy continues to inspire us,” he added.

Patnaik’s son and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, state ministers Debi Prasad Mishra and Usha Devi and other dignitaries were present on the occasion. (IANS)