Reported by Malay Ray
Rourkela, Mar 5:
An unseemly spat broke out between the two sworn enemies in Rourkela politics – BJP MLA Dillip Ray and former MLA and BJD leader Sarada Prasad Nayak – over their respective claims to the Biju legacy on a day when the whole of Odisha observed the 99th birth anniversary of the legendary leader today.
The occasion that triggered the spat was the unveiling of a 14-feet statue of the former Chief Minister at Chhend Kalinga Vihar square in the Steel City by Ray this morning.
Nayak was first off the blocks accusing Ray of trying to usurp the Biju legacy. “Someone who has never bothered to have a statue erected in the name of his father is today inaugurating a statue of Biju Babu,” said a sarcastic Nayak.
Ray hit back with full force in his speech at the inauguration ceremony. “It is amusing that the people, who had no access to Biju Pattnaik and had shown him black flags and garlanded his portrait with shoes are now claiming to work to fulfill his dreams,” the former minister said.
The reference was to Nayak’s long stint in the Congress during which he had taken the lead in defiling the man after whom the present day ruling party has been named.
Reacting to the charge that he is playing politics with the unveiling of the statue of Biju Pattnaik, Ray said those making the allegation are aware of his close association with Biju Babu, particularly during his last stage of life.
“I have profound respect for Biju Babu despite my affiliation to another political party. Biju Babu is beyond politics and party. I feel sorry for those who do not realize my selfless respect for the legendary leader. I believe that those who are trying to link it to politics are only venting out their frustration,” Ray said.
The BJP leader, however, did not stop at this scarcely veiled attack on Nayak and threatened to take on people higher up than him in the BJD hierarchy. He said he would write a biography on Biju Patnaik and ‘expose the hypocrites who are trying to gain political mileage in his name’.
“The book will contain some startling revelations about his agony, particularly during the last stage of his life. The book will disclose facts about why he was staying away from his family during last stage of his life. The book will talk about the dreams of Biju Babu and expose the elements who are trying to gain political mileage in his name,” Ray said.
In the morning, volunteers of Biju Foundation, led by Dilip Ray, came in a procession to Kalinga Vihar Square. As soon as the statue was unveiled by Ray, a chopper sprinkled flowers from the sky, which was witnessed and enjoyed by the large crowd.
Addressing the gathering, Ray said he will launch an all out effort and involve leaders of all political parties to ensure that Bharat Ratna award is conferred on Biju Pattnaik.
“Biju Pattnaik is a legendary figure who has been felicitated by several foreign countries like Indonesia, Russia and Nepal. He thoroughly deserves the Bharat Ratna award. But it is a matter of regret that the people of Odisha have not made any effort on this in the proper forum. I have decided to develop a forum of Biju lovers irrespective of their party affiliations through which we will make a strong claim for the country’s highest civilian award to be given to him,” the Rourkela MLA said.
He announced that a library-cum-museum would be developed in Kalinga Vihar, Chhend area, near the statue soon where various photographs of Biju Babu and books published on him would be displayed.
The Kalinga Vihar Chhend road will also be named after Biju Patnaik, he added.