9 February 1973: Biju Patnaik was elected the Opposition Leader in Odisha Assembly

Bijayananda Patnaik, popularly known as Biju Patnaik, is an exemplary figure in the state of Odisha. He was born on 5 March 1916. He is considered as a great Indian politician and has also served the state of Odisha as Chief Minister for two terms. This great leader passed away on 17 April 1997.

Childhood and early life

Born on 5 March 1916, Biju Patnaik had Ashalata Patnaik as his mother and Lakshminarayan as his father. They lived in G. Nuagan, Bhanjanagar, Ganjam District, which is at a distance of almost 80 km from Bramhapur. Biju’s education took place at the Ravenshaw College. However he was not much interested in general studies and chose a profession in the aviation industry. He had his formal training as a pilot, and with the commencement of the World War II, he became an integral part of the Indian Air Force. Along with becoming a pilot and serving the country, Biju Patnaik also developed interest in nationalist politics.

Rise in politics and career

Biju Patnaik was quite close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The association became stronger during the freedom struggle of India. He was also highly influenced by Gandhiji and his ideologies, and participated actively in the underground movement that was headed by Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayprakash Narayan in 1942. During this movement, he was imprisoned on 13 January 1943 and remained behind bars for two consecutive years. He was made free in 1945 and from then on, his active political life for Odisha began.

The two main principles on which Biju Patnaik’s political ideas were based are federalism and socialism. This ideology won the hearts of the Oriya people and Biju Patnaik became their idol in all senses. It was in the year 1946 that Patnaik won the election for Odisha Legislative Assembly from the North Cuttack constituency. The winning streak continued as he won in Bhajanagar in 1952 and Jagannath Prasad in 1957. The Presidentship of the state Congress was taken up by Biju Patnaik on 13 February 1961. In the mid-term election of 1961, the Congress Party led by Patnaik won by a large margin. This led to Biju Patnaik becoming the Chief Minister of Odisha on 23 June 1961.

In 1968, Patnaik got appointed for the Rajya Sabha. He gradually began forming his own regional political party, called the Utkal Congress, but that did not bring him any success. However in 1971, he was elected to the Odisha Legislative Assembly from Rajnagar in a by-election. He also became the Opposition leader in Odisha Assembly on 9 February 1973 as well as in 1974.

Apart from winning in Odisha Legislative Assembly seats, he also became Union Minister twice in two different departments. Winning from the Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency in 1977, Biju Patnaik became the Union Minister for Steel and Mines. He held this post from 1977 to 1979. His tenure in Lok Sabha was from 1980 to 1985. He resigned from the Lok Sabha seat in 1985 and contested from the Bhubaneswar Assembly Constituency. He became the Opposition Leader in Odisha Legislative Assembly. In the 1990 Assembly Elections, Janata Party won and Biju Patnaik became the Chief Minister of Odisha for the second time. His party had a clean sweep of 123 seats out of 147. In 1996, Patnaik contested the 12th Lok Sabha election from Cuttack and Aska.

Development of Odisha

Biju Patnaik had a great role in the development of the state of Odisha. Notable works done by him are: the establishment of the Paradeep Port; a thermal plant at Talcher; Sainik School and Regional College of Education at Bhubaneswar; MIG factory at Sunabeda; Engineering College of Rourkela; Balimela Hydel Project; Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar; and the Express Highway connecting the iron ore deposits of Sukinda with Paradeep.


Biju Patnaik expired at the age of 81 years on 17 April 1997. Manoj Das rightly said about him, “Perhaps Biju Patnaik was having a developed inner-self which was known to a very few of his fellow beings. He seems to have achieved many things in one life which might be impossible to achieve in a number of lives”.


Also on this day:

1968 – Rahul Roy, Indian actor, was born 

2006 – Nadira, Indian Actress, died

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