Biju Patnaik

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Biju Patnaik
Biju Patnaik.jpg
3rdChief Minister of Orissa
In office
5 March 1990 – 15 March 1995
Preceded by Hemananda Biswal
Succeeded by Janaki Ballabh Pattanaik
In office
23 June 1961 – 2 October 1963
Preceded by Harekrushna Mahatab
Succeeded by Biren Mitra
Union Minister, Steel, Mines and Coal
In office
March 1977 – Jan 1980
Prime Minister Morarji Desai
Constituency Kendrapara
Personal details
Born Bijayananda Patnaik
(1916-03-05)5 March 1916
Cuttack, Orissa, British India
Died 17 April 1997(1997-04-17) (aged 81)
New Delhi
Political party Janata Dal (1989-1997)
Other political
affiliations
Janata Party (1977-1989)
Utkal Congress (1969-1977)
Indian National Congress (1946-1969)
Spouse(s) Gyan Patnaik
Children Prem Patnaik,
Naveen Patnaik,
Gita Mehta
Alma mater Ravenshaw College
Profession Pilot, politician
Religion Hindu

Biju Patnaik (Oriya: ବିଜୁ ପଟ୍ଟନାୟକ; 5 March 1916 – 17 April 1997) was an Indian politician and Chief Minister of Odisha for two terms.

Early life[edit]

Biju Patnaik was born on 5 March 1916 to Lakshminarayan and Ashalata Patnaik. His parents belong to G.Nuagan, Bhanjanagar, Ganjam district, around 80 km from Bramhapur. He was educated at Ravenshaw College in Odisha but due to his interest in aviation he dropped out and trained as a pilot. Patnaik flew with private airlines but at the start of the Second World War he joined the Royal Indian Air Force eventually becoming head of air transport command. While in service he began an interest in nationalist politics and used air force transports to deliver what was seen as subversive literature to Indian troops. But Patnaik remained committed to fighting the Axis Powers and when he was jailed for his illegal activities he only served two years in prison. Shortly after independence Pakistani tribesman invaded Kashmir and at Nehru's request he helped airlift the first Indian soldiers into Srinagar.

Role in Indonesian freedom struggle[edit]

Main article: Sutan Sjahrir

Biju Patnaik met with Jawaharlal Nehru during his participation in Indian freedom struggle and became one of his trusted friends. Nehru viewed the freedom struggle of the Indonesian people as parallel to that of India, and viewed Indonesia as a potential ally. When the Dutch attempted to quell Indonesian independence on 21 July 1947, President Sukarno ordered Sjahrir, the former prime minister of Indonesia, to leave the country to attend the first Inter-Asia Conference, organised by Nehru, in July 1947[1] and to foment international public opinion against the Dutch.[2] Sjahrir was unable to leave as the Dutch controlled the Indonesian sea and air routes. Nehru asked Biju Patnaik, who was adventurous and an expert pilot, to rescue Sjahrir.[3] Biju Patnaik and his wife flew to Java and brought Sultan Sjahrir out on a Dakota reaching India via Singapore on 24 July 1947. For this act of bravery, Patnaik was given honorary citizenship in Indonesia[4] and awarded the 'Bhoomi Putra',[5] the highest Indonesian award, rarely granted to a foreigner. In 1996, when Indonesia was celebrating its 50th Independence Day, Biju Patnaik was awarded the highest national award, the 'Bintang Jasa Utama'.[6]

Role in saving Kashmir[edit]

Biju Patnaik piloted the first plane that left Palam Airport at Delhi on 27 October 1947 at dawn and landed at Srinagar Airport in the early morning. He brought 17 soldiers of 1-Sikh regiment commanded by Lt.Col. Dewan Ranjit Rai. "...The pilot flew low on the airstrip twice to ensure that no raiders were around... Instructions from Prime Minister Nehru’s office were clear: If the airport was taken over by the enemy, you are not to land. Taking a full circle the DC-3 flew ground level. Anxious eye-balls peered from inside the aircraft – only to find the airstrip empty. Nary a soul was in sight. The raiders were busy distributing the war booty amongst them in Baramulla."

Politics in independent India[edit]

Patnaik's political ideals were centred in socialism and federalism. His strong advocacy for equal resources to all Indian states who needed such, made him a champion of his Oriya constituents.

In 1946 Patnaik was elected uncontested to the Odisha Legislative Assembly from North Cuttack constituency. In 1952 and 1957 he won from Jagannath Prasad and Surada, respectively. In 1961 he assumed the presidency of the state Congress. Under his leadership, the Congress Party won 82 of 140 seats and Patnaik (representing Chowdwar constituency) became the chief minister of Odisha on 23 June 1961 and remained in the position until 2 October 1963 when he resigned from the post under the Kamaraj Plan to revitalise the Congress party. He was the Chief Minister of Odisha at the age of 45.

Patnaik was close to Indira Gandhi who took over the Congress Party in 1967. However, they clashed in 1969 over the Presidential election. He left the Congress and formed a regional party—the Utkal Congress. In the 1971 assembly poll, his party did reasonably well. Patnaik then re-established contact with his old friend Jayaprakash Narayan and plunged into the JP movement as it picked up momentum in 1974. When the Emergency was declared in 1975, Biju Patnaik was one of the first to be arrested along with other opposition leaders.

He was released in 1977. Later, in the same year, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time from Kendrapara and became Union minister for steel and mines in both the Morarji Desai and the Charan Singh governments until 1979. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha again in 1980 and 1984 from Kendrapara as Janata Party candidate despite the Congress wave in 1984 following Indira Gandhi's death. With the Congress defeat in 1989, he bounced back into the political limelight. However, after playing a key behind-the-scenes role in manoeuvring V.P.Singh to the Prime Minister's post, he again chose to go back to Odisha, and prepared for the assembly election. In 1990 state assembly election, the Janata Dal received a thumping majority (two third assembly seats) which saw Biju Patnaik being the Chief Minister of Odisha for the second time until 1995.

He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996 from Cuttack and Aska constituencies as a Janata Dal candidate. He retained the latter until his death on 17 April 1997 of cardio-respiratory failure.

In 1992, Bijayananda Patnaik left this quote for the people of Odisha;

"In my dream of the 21st century for the State, I would have young men and women who put the interest of the State before them. They will have pride in themselves, confidence in themselves. They will not be at anybody’s mercy, except their own selves. By their brains, intelligence and capacity, they will recapture the history of Kalinga."

Achievements as a public representative[edit]

Biju Patnaik set up Kalinga tubes, Kalinga Airlines, Kalinga Iron work, Kalinga Refractories and the Kalinga, a daily Oriya newspaper. In 1951 he established the international Kalinga Prize for popularisation of Science and Technology among the people and entrusted the responsibility to the UNESCO. The projects which he was known to have spearheaded includes the Port of Paradip, Orissa aviation centre, Bhubaneswar Airport, the Cuttack-Jagatpur Mahanadi highway bridge, Regional Engineering College, Rourkela, Sainik School Bhubaneswar, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology-Bhubaneswar, NALCO (National Aluminum Company) and the Choudwar & Barbil industrial belts.

He also established the Kalinga Cup in football.

Family[edit]

Biju Patnaik was married to Gyan Patnaik. Biju Patnaik's son, Naveen Patnaik, is the current Chief Minister of Odisha. His daughter, Gita Mehta, is an English writer. His elder son Prem Patnaik is a Delhi based industrialist.

Popular incidents and quotes[edit]

Paradeep Port: Patnaik was keen to build the port at Paradeep. When the Central government refused to give funds to build the Paradeep port, he said: To hell with the Government of India. I will build the port with state government and my own money. And he spent Rs 1.60 billion on it. Later, of course, Nehru sanctioned funds for the project. Today that is Odisha's most prominent port.

Nehru and Patnaik: Nehru Patnaik "India's buccaneer". When Nehru was criticised in the Parliament for his decision to provide more aid to Odisha. Nehru replied, '"Biju Patnaik has the courage, dynamism and zeal to work. So there is no blunder in giving more aid to Odisha." During the Sino-Indian War in 1962, Nehru consulted the Oriya leader repeatedly for advice. For sometime he was Nehru's defence advisor, unofficially of course. 'The prime minister was dazzled by Mr Patnaik's familiarity with military subjects,' wrote a political commentator of the time.

Anti-corruption stand: To fight against corruption he once proclaimed 'beat up all corrupt officials'. Although his government failed to control and defeat corruption.[citation needed]

On death: When a journalist asked in him on his 79th birthday how he would like to die, he had quipped, 'I would like to die in an air crash rather than from prolonged illness. I would like to die instantly, just fall down and die'. This was later narrated by one of Biju Patnaik's close associates Mr.Manas Ranjan,Advocate.

On Odisha and for Oriyas: To be born poor is not a crime but to remain so is indeed a crime'. 'Be loyal not to me but to the destiny of the State'. 'Odisha is a rich state where poor people live'. 'Be a pride to your State and not a shame'.

Memorials[edit]

The Government of Odisha has named several institutions after the name of Biju Patanaik. They include the Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneswar, the Biju Patnaik University of Technology, etc. Also his son Naveen Patnaik made his birthday 5 March as the Panchayat Raj Divas, a holiday in Odisha in his memory.

Biju Patnaik Memorial

Legislative history[edit]

House Constituency[7] Start End[8] Party Notes
11th Lok Sabha Aska 1996 17 April 1997* Janata Dal *Expired
10th Vidhan Sabha Bhubaneswar 1990 1995 Janata Dal
9th Vidhan Sabha Bhubaneswar 1985 1990 Janata
8th Lok Sabha Kendrapara 1984 25 March 1985* *Resigned
7th Lok Sabha Kendrapara 1980
8th Vidhan Sabha Patkura 1980 11 June 1980* Janata (S) *Resigned[9]
6th Lok Sabha Kendrapara 1977
6th Vidhan Sabha Rajnagar 1974 1977 Utkal Congress
Rajya Sabha Odisha 13 May 1971 6 October 1971 Janata Dal
3rd Vidhan Sabha Choudwar 1961 1967 Congress
2nd Vidhan Sabha Surada 1957 1961 Congress
1st Vidhan Sabha Jagannath Prasad 1951 1957 Congress

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ajit Singh praises Biju Patnaik". Zee News (Zee Media Corporation Ltd). 5 March 2013. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Joshi, Dina Krishna (2010). "Biju Patnaik: The Legendary Hero". Orissa Review 2010 (2, February/March): 53–56, page 55. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Biju Patnaik Biography - Biju Patnaik Profile, Childhood, Life, Timeline". India Guide (iloveindia.com). Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Biju Patnaik". The Economist. 24 April 1997. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Singh, Kuldip (2 May 1997). "Obituary: Biju Patnaik". The Independent. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Ansari, Javed M. (15 September 1995). "The Hero in Winter". India Today. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. 
  7. ^ List of Members of Odisha Legislative Assembly (1951–2004)
  8. ^ Shri Biju Patnaik, J.D. - Aska (Odisha)
  9. ^ S. Gajrani (2004). History, Religion and Culture of India. Gyan Publishing House. pp. 167–. ISBN 978-81-8205-063-1. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Harekrushna Mahatab(1st term)
Hemananda Biswal(2nd term)
Chief Minister of Odisha
28 June 1961 to 2 October 1963 (1st term)
5 March 1990 to 15 March 1995 (2nd term)
Succeeded by
Biren Mitra(1st term)
Janaki Ballabh Pattanaik(2nd term)