When Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was only 16 years old, his father Biju Patnaik named a house after his son. The house has since been known as ’Naveen Niwas’
Thirty-eight years after, as the little Naveen grew to become the chief minister, he started paying back by naming over a dozen schemes and awards, parks, sports complexes and even a university after his father.
Statues of the legendary Biju are available in every town of the state. Now schemes, awards, parks, roads and institutions in Biju Patnaik’s name is a common phenomenon in the state.
“In 1961-62, Biju Babu named the house as Naveen Niwas out of affection towards his youngest son,” said Biju Patnaik’s co-worker and freedom fighter Bhabani Patnaik.
Though the elder Patnaik named a house after his son, he had never allowed any of his three children or wife into politics. Mr. Naveen, in fact, entered politics after the demise of his father in 1997.
During his tenure as a Union minister under the NDA regime, Mr. Naveen ensured that the city airport, close to Naveen Niwas, be named as Biju Patnaik Airport.
Biju, an ace pilot, had a great passion for flying aircraft.
Sensing that his father’s name was in great demand in the state, Naveen named the regional political party headed by him as Biju Janata Dal. The junior Patnaik had been in power for three consecutive times in the state under the BJD banner.
After Mr. Naveen returned to Orissa as chief minister in 2000, he never hesitated to introduce schemes and awards in his father’s name though his regional party - BJD - was against naming of national level schemes after Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
In the series of naming schemes and awards after his father’s name, Mr. Naveen recently announced launching of Biju Kandhamal Yojana and Biju Gajapati Yojana - two welfare schemes for the poor tribal population of the two districts.
Earlier, Mr. Patnaik had also launched Biju KBK Yojana in 2006-07 after the Centre allegedly slashed funds under the Revised Long Term Action Plan (RLTAP) for poverty stricken KBK region comprising eight districts.
“We launched two schemes for Kandhamal and Gajapati as the successive governments at the centre never included the two districts under the KBK plan,” Mr. Naveen said.
When the state government’s demand to include villages having less than 100 households under Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), Naveen announced launching of Orissa’s own rural electrification scheme and named it as Biju Gramjyori Yojana (BGJY).
The BGJY is running parallel to the RGGVY in Orissa.
This apart, a number of state awards were also named after the chief minister’s father.
The awards were: Biju Patnaik Sports Award and Biju Patnaik Bravery Award by the sports and youth affairs department, Biju Patnaik Award for Wildlife by the forest and environment department, Biju Patnaik Award for Scientific Excellence by the science and technology department.
During his tenure as chief minister, Mr. Naveen had, however, named one scheme each after Utkalmani Gopabandhu Dash and Utkal Gourab Madhusudan Das.
“After all Biju Patnaik was a great personality.
Naming schemes after him added to the glory of Orissa,” said BJD secretary-general and agriculture minister Damodar Rout.
The opposition Congress and BJP, however, do not accept the Biju Phenomenon.
“No doubt Biju Patnaik was a great man. It looks odd to have every scheme or award after his name. The CM should stop proprietorship attitude”, state BJP president Suresh Pujari told PTI.
Congress was, however, more critical. “They have erected about 500 statues across the state and following Mayawati’s act of self-glorification. I am sure, Biju Babu was against self-glorification during his life time”, said Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee chief spokesman Kalilash Acharya.