Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today laid the foundation stone for the first Odia University at ‘Bakula Bana’ under Satyabadi block of Puri district to commemorate the 141st birth anniversary of Utkalmani  Pandit Gopabandhu Das while paying tributes  to the ‘Pancha Sakha’ .

The varsity is being constructed at the same place where 'Pancha Sakha' (five friends) which comprised Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das, Krupasindhu Mishra, Harihar Das, Pandit Mishra and Nilakantha Das had set up Bakula Bana Vidyalaya, the state's first model open school at Sakhigopal in 1909.

“Today on the birth anniversary of Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das, we should remember his great deeds and sacrifices that he made for our State,” said Naveen while laying floral tributes to the freedom fighters.

The Heritage Cabinet in its meeting held on July 27, had approved the proposal for establishing state's first Odia University in honour of the Utkalmani. The state government has proposed a budget of Rs 10 crore to be spent for establishment of the varsity and 25-acres of land have also been earmarked for the purpose.

The proposed regional language university will impart education up to higher courses including MPhil and PhD in Odia language and will promote and propagate Odia language across the country. It will also facilitate research on different aspects of the language.

Meanwhile, opposition parties took a jibe at the Chief Minister and criticised him and his party terming the event organisation a publicity stunt.

Senior BJP lealder Biswabhusan Harichandan said, “CM Naveen hasn't been able to talk in Odia despite leading the govt for last 18 yrs but non-Odia officers are able to do so within 6 months. The CM should take a pledge that he should henceforth speak with the people of Odisha only in Odia”.

On the other hand, Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik who thanked the CM in a tweet in Odia for establishing an Odia varsity immediately tagged him in another tweet stating, "Translation for you @Naveen_Odisha:  I thank the CM for the laying foundation stone of Odia University. I hope he enrolls there soon to learn Odia."

In response to the remarks on CM Naveen, BJD Spokesperson Amar Satpathy said, ”The establishment of the Odia university by the CM shows his love for the language.  Almost all developmental works for Odia language including the achievement of classical status was done during the tenure of Naveen Patnaik.”