Bhubaneswar: Naveen Patnaik is an enigma of sorts. Though the five-time Chief Minister of Odisha is not very vocal about his personal choices, people across the country have always been keen to know more about this man, whose charisma has dominated Odisha politics for more than two decades, and still continues to reign hearts.
Today during a high-level meeting on Puri Heritage Corridor project at the Lok Seva Bhavan, Naveen’s Private Secretary VK Pandian revealed a different side of the Chief Minister. Sharing an anecdote, Pandian threw light on Naveen being an ardent Jagannath devotee.
The Odisha CM visits Puri on January 1 every year to seek blessings from Lord Jagannath. On January 1, 2016 while the Chief Minister was on his way to Puri, with Pandian accompanying him on the rear seat of the car, the latter noticed, Naveen bowing before each and every picture of the Lord that came on the way.
“I was slightly taken aback because Sir did not miss out a single hoarding which had Lord Jagannath’s picture on it, and folded his hands before each one, through the entire 60 kilometre stretch between Bhubaneswar and Puri. It was then I came to know about the different side of the Chief Minister,” said Pandian.
Pandian who is also the Secretary, Transformation and Initiatives (5T), said that since he was a witness to the Puri Heritage Corridor from its nascent stages, wanted to share this story before all who were willing to know how this project evolved.
“I was watching Sir closely and at first I thought it to be a normal one-off gesture to submit before the Almighty. But I was quite surprised to note that he repeated the same act whenever the car crossed a hoarding having a picture of Lord Jagannath. It was there when I realised that the CM is an ardent devotee of the Lord,” said Pandian.
The 5T Secretary added that since this episode, he nursed a dream to do something significant for the development of the Pilgrim Town.
“It was during the same trip, while on our way back to Bhubaneswar, Sir insisted that we do something noteworthy in the service of the Holy Trinity, the Temple and Puri as a whole. So, we can say that it was during the CM’s 2016 New Year trip to Puri, the Heritage Corridor was conceptualised.”
Towards the end of this anecdote, Pandian said that not many in the Government knew about this project at the beginning. In the first week of January 2016, the jail on Puri’s ‘Bada Danda’ (Grand Road) was shifted. This was the first step major decision taken, much before the Heritage Corridor project was announced.
The 5T Secretary shared this story at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister where he dedicated the draft architectural plan of Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor to the people of Odisha.