Bhubaneswar: Demand for conferment of highest civilian award of the country ‘Bharat Ratna’ on legendary leader Biju Patnaik has gained momentum. While former Union minister Dilip Ray expressed his disappointment for not conferring the Bharat Ratna on Biju Babu, Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati stated the highest civilian award should be given to the legendary leader.

On the other hand, BJD is firm on its stand demanding Bharat Ratna for the former Odisha Chief Minister.
In his Facebook page, Dilip Ray stated, “It is greatly disappointing that the Central govt is yet to take a decision on conferring Bharat Ratna on Biju Babu. A resolution was passed in the Odisha Assembly demanding Bharat Ratna to be bestowed on Biju Babu, following which I had also written a letter to Prime Minister outlining his illustrious achievements(sic)”

"Biju Babu epitomises Odia pride and honour and the demand to confer the highest civilian award on him represents the collective sentiments of the people of the state," Ray added.

Meanwhile, Bahinipati said dreams of people of the State will be shattered if Bharat Ratna is not conferred on Biju Babu.

“Biju Babu loved Odisha. Until he is posthumously awarded with Bharat Ratna, dreams of Odias cannot be fulfilled. We also demand the highest civilian award for Jankai Ballabh Patnaik,” he added.

Toeing similar lines, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Chandra Sarathi Behera said that demand for Bharat Ratna for Biju Babu will always be there.

“In our hearts he (Biju Babu) is the ratna. The demand for conferment of the award on him will be there,” said Behera.

On the other hand, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge expressed his resentment for not nominating educationist and Siddhaganga Matha chief Shivakumar Swami. In his reaction, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the nation is above all the awards.

"Congress should not play politics over the award," Hussain added.

The Centre on Friday announced Bharat Ratna award for Bharatiya Jana Sangh ideologue Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), eminent Assamese poet Bhupen Hazarika (posthumously) and former President Pranab Mukherjee.

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