Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhawanipatna, Nov 3:
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who has been the target of attack of the opposition for his inability to speak and write Odia, the language of the state, was yesterday targeted on the issue by his party man and Rajya Sabha MP Baisnab Charan Parida.
Speaking at a conference on protection of Odia language at the town hall here Sunday, Parida, the convenor of the conference, called upon the chief minister and said “Mr Chief Minister, respect the Odia language.”
“First I am an Odia, then a politician”, added Parida.
In a party where even a veiled criticism of the leader is considered blasphemy and is dealt with sternly, it was certainly brave of the Rajya Sabha MP to hit the supremo where it hurts the most.
Parida said it was during the tenure of then chief minister Nabakrushna Choudhury in 1954 that the Odia language had gained the status of official language of the state. But the decison remains to be implemented, he rued.
Speakers at the conference took pot-shots at Naveen Patnaik for not being able to speak Odia despite four successive innings as the state’s chief minister. While BJD leaders are tall talking about Odisha’s progress under Naveen reign at different meeting, he is yet to learn and speak Odia, they lamented.
“Whoever is the ruler should know the language of the ruled. Otherwise he is not fit to be a ruler. It’s for the Odia language that we have been privileged to reside in a separate called Odisha. It’s the language and culture which is the life and blood of a community/race which without it becomes lifeless,” speakers at the conference said.
Other speakers at the conference eminent story writer Narayan Prasad Patnaik, former minister Rahas Bihari Behera, Gajanan Mishra, litterateur Dr Ajambar Malla, Amitav Khillar and Sitaballav Mohapatra stressed on the need to keep alive Odia pride for preserving the language.
Notable among the resolutions adopted at the conference were a proposal to implement the rule adopted in 1954 to make Odia the official language of communication in Odisha and appointment to candidates who have completed their studies in the Odia medium, in different fields as an encouragement.