Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday unveiled the Dakota DC-3 aircraft, which Biju Patnaik had used to fly two Indonesian leaders out of the clutches of Dutch colonists in 1947, for public viewing at the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar to mark the 107th birth anniversary of the former chief minister.
Naveen also launched an air service connecting Bhubaneswar to Berhampur, the commercial town of southern Odisha.
“The display of this Dakota DC-3 Aircraft will inspire the people of Odisha and propel them to dream big,” said a media release issued by the chief minister’s office. While the people were asked to dream big, the party workers pledged to work for Nabin Odisha (New Odisha).
The Dakota aircraft, which was lying “in a precarious condition” at the isolation bay of Calcutta airport, was dismantled and brought to Bhubaneswar on January 18 and was later reassembled and refurbished.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik pays tribute to Biju Patnaik to mark the latter’s birth anniversary on Odisha Assembly premises on Sunday. Ashwinee Pati
The CMO’s media release said: “Iconic Dakota (DC3) aircraft (VT-AUI) belongs to erstwhile Kalinga Airlines, founded by Biju Patnaik, ex-chief minister of Odisha. The said airlines operated nearly a dozen Dakotas and Patnaik was its chief pilot.”
It further said: “This aircraft was used by him to rescue former Indonesian Vice-President Md. Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir. For his effort, Biju Patnaik was given honorary citizenship of Indonesia and awarded the title of ‘Bhumi Putra’ by the Indonesian government, a recognition rarely granted to a foreigner.
“Since this aircraft is closely associated with Biju Patnaik, it will resemble Odisha’s rich aviation history which would be a befitting tribute to one of the most iconic personalities of Odisha. People will see this Dakota aircraft as a memento of Biju Patnaik’s bravery and heroics.”
In 1953, Kalinga Airlines and seven other private airlines were nationalised and merged with Indian Airlines.
On this occasion, party workers took a pledge that reads: “As a disciplined soldier of the Biju Janata Dal, I take the oath on the birthday of the great leader Biju Patnaik that I will work for the unity of the party, be disciplined and dedicate myself to serve the people of Odisha. I will fearlessly fight to protect the interest and pride of the state. I will work selflessly for the welfare and empowerment of the people of the state. I am taking an oath to build a prosperous, empowered and self-respecting Nabin Odisha.”
By coining the new phrase, “Nabin Odisha”, the party has made it clear that Naveen’s name will be able to fetch the votes of the younger generation which will connect with Naveen Patnaik easily rather than Biju Patnaik who passed away on April 17, 1997. It feels that the younger generation knows more about Naven from 23 years of his uninterrupted rule in the state and is less aware of the contribution of Biju Patnaik after whom the party was named in 1997.”
In order to create awareness among the people about building a strong and empowered Odisha, debate, essay, drawing and painting competitions kicked off in all 147 constituencies across the state on the subject “Nabin Odisha”. The competition that began on Sunday would continue till March 25. All the winners will be felicitated on April 17, the death anniversary of Biju Patnaik.
Cycle rallies were also organised across the state. The party organised the distribution of fruits at hospitals, old age homes and orphanages.
As a befitting tribute to the statesman, the air service began on Sunday from Bhubaneswar to Berhampur. The M/s India One Air will operate in the Bhubaneswar-Rangeilunda route using a nine-seater small aircraft.
Biju Patnaik Jayanti was also celebrated as Panchayati Raj Divas for his contribution to decentralising the power to the grassroots.