Name – Biju Patnaik
Date of Birth – 5 March 1916
Death – 17 April 1997
Place – Cuttack, Odisha
Father – Lakshminarayan Patnaik
Mother – Ashalata Patnaik
Wife – Gyan Patnaik
Children – Prem Patnaik, Gita Mehta, Naveen Patnaik
Biju Patnaik completed his early education at the Mission Primary School and Mission Christ Collegiate of Cuttack. In 1932, he got admitted into the intermediate science class of the famous Ravenshaw College, where he was a talented sportsman and headed the football, hockey, athletics and cricket team of the University. He was the sports champion for continuously three years. He studied Aeronautics at the Aeronautical Training Institute of India.
Biju decided to join the Quit India Movement under the guidance of the Father of the Nation to make India free. In 1943, he was sent to prison for about two years for participating in the Quit India Movement.
Biju Babu was also instrumental in assisting Indonesia with its bout for Independence from the Dutch in 1947. The same indomitable spirit had him fly to India the leaders of the Indonesian freedom struggle, despite the threat of his plane being shot down by the Dutch Colonial rulers.
An indebted Indonesia conferred the highest civilian award, Bhumi Putra to this valiant personality and even it is heard that the Indonesia government offered a huge tract of land to him which he returned back politely.
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.
Contribution to Odisha
Biju Patnaik started his own airline, the Kalinga Airways and in 1947 carried soldiers into Kashmir, when it was threatened from across the newly created border sky. At great risk, he landed the first platoon of troops in Srinagar.
Biju Babu is considered as a pioneer of the industrial growth of Orissa and established a string of industries in mission. He set up the Kalinga Tubes, the first modern Textiles Mills at Choudwar; the first Refrigerator factory at Jobra, Cuttack and a low shaft furnance at Barbil. In 1951, he established the Kalinga Prize for the Popularisation of Science and entrusted the responsibility to the UNESCO.
The following are some of his outstanding contributions:
- The Choudwar and Barbil Industrial Belts
- The Cuttack-Jagatpur Mahanadi Highway Bridge
- The Bhubaneswar Airport
- Regional College of Education at Bhubaneswar
- The Orissa Aviation Centre
- Paradeep Port
- The MIG factory at Sunabeda
- Thermal Power Plant at Talcher
- Hydro-Electric Project at Balimela
- The Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT)
- Engineering & Medical Colleges at Burla
- The Odisha State Planning Board
- Re-organisation of districts
- Ferro Silicon Complex at Theruvali
- Engineering College at Rourkela
- Express Highway linking Daitari with Paradeep
- Sainik School at Bhubaneswar
- Regional Research Laboratory
- Hirakud Dam
- Rourkela Steel plant
- Choudwar and Barbil industrial belts
- 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.
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.