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Pranab Mukherjee, LK Advani, Yechury to release book on Biju Patnaik

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is currently faced with a resurgent BJP in the state

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Pranab Mukherjee, LK Advani, Sitaram Yechury to release book on Biju Patnaik
Former president Pranab Mukherjee (right) will share stage with LK Advani and several opposition leaders during the event in Bhubaneswar on January 27

In a significant development for politics, former president Pranab Mukherjee, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani, Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief and a host of Opposition leaders are set to share stage at an event to release a pictorial biography of former chief minister in Bhubaneswar on January 27.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is currently faced with a resurgent in the state. Naveen is also trying to counter the BJP’s efforts to claim the legacy of his father

BJD Lok Sabha MP Bhartruhari Mahtab told Business Standard that the pictorial biography of Biju Patnaik’s life has been put together by the centenary committee. “The book contains rare photographs of Biju babu’s life,” Mahtab said.

He confirmed that Mukherjee will be the chief guest at the event, and release the book. Advani will be the guest of honour. He also confirmed having invited Yechury.

Mahtab pointed out that apart from Atal Bihari Vajpayee and George Fernandes, Advani is a surviving Cabinet colleague of from the Janata Party government of 1977. Vajpayee and Fernandes are unwell and keep away from public life.

Sources in the office of former president Mukherjee confirmed that he will attend the event.

Janata Dal (Secular) spokesperson Danish Ali said party leader and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda has also been invited. “is slated to travel to Bengaluru to invite him on January 14,” Ali said.

Sources in the Opposition camp said it was unusual for to be reaching out to other leaders. Even after severing his alliance with the in the run up to the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly polls, which take place simultaneously, Naveen had stayed away from efforts at non-and non-third front unity. Similarly, he had kept away from the Left’s efforts in 2014 to bring all the regional parties on one platform.

Opposition sources said Naveen’s guest list has been prepared with an eye on the forthcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. “Advani might be a leader, but there is no secret about his differences with the current leadership of his party. The BJP’s unit would find it hard to counter Advani praising and the BJD is sure to milk it electorally,” said an Opposition leader, who didn’t want to be named.

The BJD would similarly highlight Mukherjee’s presence, and underline that was not only in the for several years, but was trusted by India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In the Janata Party cabinet, was the Cabinet minister for steel, mines and coal. Vajpayee was the external affairs minister, Fernandes the industries minister and Advani had the information and broadcasting portfolio.

Several other Opposition leaders are also likely to be invited for the event. The Biju Janata Dal marked Biju Patnaik’s birth centenary in 2016-17.

First Published: Wed, January 10 2018. 01:18 IST