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Odisha Chief Minister Presses For Bharat Ratna For The Late Biju Patnaik

Ahead of Prime Minister Narndra Modi’s visit to Odisha on March 5, the Biju Janata Dal government headed by Naveen Patnaik is pressing BJP to confer the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna to daring aviator-businessman-politician the late Biju Patnaik coinciding with his birth anniversary. Biju Patnaik who passed away in 1997 was the two term chief minister of Odisha. Father of the current chief minister senior Patnaik also worked at the Centre as the Union minister for steel & mines, and Union minister for coal.  Political parties in Odisha like the Congress, and others are not comfortable with BJD-BJP’s continued bonhomie. They are now asking BJD-BJP to lower their mask, clarify their relationship as friends, foes or just having tactical understanding during polls. Sources say, buzz of formal or informal alliance is growing with BJD because, one, PM had recently addressed Naveen Patnaik as a friend at Sambalpur, two, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh in his recent trip to Odisha did not criticize Naveen directly, three, BJD’s extending support to Ashwini Vaishnaw for Rajya Sabha nomination and four, VK Pandian, man Friday of Patnaik, in a TV interview admitted that Patnaik and Modi are good friends.  Historically, there has been an informal understanding between BJD and BJP but this time there is a strong buzz in Odisha that the BJP-BJD will have a formal seat sharing arrangement for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.