Bhubaneswar: Former President Pranab Mukherjee was a great admirer of the legendary Biju Patnaik, the father of incumbent Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
The former President who was here in January 2018 to attend the release of ‘The Tall Man Biju Patnaik’, a pictorial biography of the legendary politician of Odisha had stated “It is a pride for a short man like me to attend the book release ceremony of tall man Biju Babu.”
While stating that he knew Biju Babu from close quarters, Mukherjee had said, “I and my family have received lots of affection and love from him.”
The former President had described Biju Babu as a legend in his lifetime and had said that he should not be confined to the territorial geography of Odisha.
Mukherjee while pointing out that he was not on the same side with Biju Babu politically, the latter had supported him in several crucial times. The former President had recounted that Biju Babu had supported him when he was the deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission to carry through the proposal to change the Gadgil formula.
Mukherjee had said that Biju Babu had a great contribution in establishing NALCO in Odisha.
The former President was also a great admirer of Odisha’s art and culture and would rush to Puri to have an early morning darshan of Lord Jagannath whenever he used to be on a visit to the State.
In 2015 August 7, Mukherjee who was then the President of India had to cut short his two-day visit to Odisha after First Lady Suvra Mukherjee was taken ill.
Mukherjee, who had completed “darshan” of the deities at Shree Jagannath Temple, was scheduled to spend the night at Raj Bhawan in Puri.
He had rushed back to Bhubaneswar and had flown back to Delhi the same evening itself.
However, First Lady Suvra Mukherjee succumbed to her illness on August 18, 2015, at the age of 58.