The ‘Kalinga Sandh’ (bull of Kalinga) Biju Patnaik is succeeded by two sons, Prem and Naveen and a daughter, Gita. But there was one more energetic, charismatic and dashing young man who Biju Patnaik is said to have a soft corner for and loved more than a son. And that is, Dilip Ray- former Union Minister and founder of Mayfair chain of hotels.

Pic: Dilip Ray with Biju Patnaik and Gyan Patnaik
Pic: Dilip Ray with Biju Patnaik and Gyan Patnaik

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For the grandson of former Odisha Chief Minister Nilamani Routray, Dilip, a towering political leader like Biju Patnaik was a source of inspiration since childhood. Nilamani Routray and Biju Patnaik were thick as friends. It is said that Biju Patnaik would always stay in the residence of Hrushikesh Ray (father of Dilip Ray), every time he came to Rourkela.

It was Biju Patnaik who introduced Dilip Ray to politics. Ray became the Rourkela Municipality Chairman with Patnaik’s backing and encouragement. During the dusk of Patnaik’s life, he spent his days in Ray’s Delhi residence and even breathed his last there in 1997.

In an interview to Tara Shankar Sahay in 1997, Ray said,”I was very close to Biju Patnaik. I was like a son.”

In 2015, Ray wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the country’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna for the ‘Bhumi Putra’ of Indonesia, Biju Patnaik.