India has probably never seen such a maverick leader as Biju Patnaik. I have tried to find out some rare and little known anecdotes about him- which reflect how maverick he was. These are sourced from the Internet and i hope you will like it.
He loved cycling. At the age of 14, with 2 friends named Amar and Bhrambhar he cycled from Cuttack to Peshawar, a distance of 4500 km. Please reflect that this was 1930 and there were dreaded jungles along the route which were much feared. However our hero was not bothered and completed his visit India Mission. In later life he was often seen cycling to the State Secretariat.
His Love Marriage
Biju Babu saw Gyanwati Sethi when she was playing tennis at Lahore and fell in love with her. The marriage was epic and the marriage party arrived with a fleet of tiger moth planes which flew in formation over the train in which the couple travelled for their honeymoon. Wow, what style .
His winter wife
Gyan Devi used to stay in Delhi and visited Orissa only in winter and hence Biju Babu called her his winter wife. He did not like his family in politics and kept them away from it. Gyan Devi was one of the 1st woman in the country to get a commercial pilots license. Reportedly She accompanied Biju Babu on his daring flight trip to rescue Indonesian leaders, leaving behing her 14 day son Naveen (Present CM)
Biju Babu did not differentiate between rich and poor. He had a bond with a poor tailor named Subhas Padhi who between 1972 and 1996 stiched as many as 600 kurta pyjamas for him. All 600 were white with a round neck. The tailor master cherishes his bond with his angry yet kind VIP customer.
The slap and the slap back.
An unemployed young man slapped Biju Patnaik when he was CM. Undeterred, the huge 6 feet 2 inches Biju Babu gave him 3 slaps in return. Later he called the youth and gave him Rs 300/-
Donation versus Bribes
There was a controversy and vigilance action about Rs 18 crore in his Party’s bank account. Instead of denying it he said what is wrong with it and that unlike other leaders who took bribes he took donations and that others took in cash while he took it in his party’s bank account. He said everyone does it and “ why are you bothered about one little chief minister fiddling with some money ” and “what is 18 crore to Biju Patnaik”
Biju Babu went on to say that every political party fund should be accounted for and Parliament should make necessary laws. The bitter truth according to him was that all political parties are neck deep in making money and all are equally involved.
Source of donations
Biju Babu said that the source was ordinary people and you had no idea how ordinary people loved him. He said that his transparency of putting in the bank was being questioned and instead if , like Congress leaders he would have put in in his drawer, then you wouldn’t have known about it.
He then gave his inimitable dialogue “So whats your bloody problem”
On corrupt officials
Biju Babu as Chief Minister gave a public call to beat up corrupt officials “But first give me a telegram for my permission”. Lo and behold. The CMO was flooded with telegrams and many officers were manhandled. There was a public uproar but he was unpurturbed and said “We should not only beat up corrupt officials but guillotine them”
On Punishment for Rapists
Biju Babu said that the apt punishment for rapists was castration and that if was the sole arbitrer then every rapist would be castrated. Incidentally, during his tenure as CM, there was a rumour that the police had allegedly castrated a 60 year rapist.
What a personality. There are many more such anecdotes about this much loved leader. He is immortal.