Perhaps for the first time since his entry into politics in the late 1990s, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik called the leaders of the state's major political parties on Thursday and sought their cooperation in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic together.
Patnaik made separate telephone calls to Union minister and senior BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha BJP president Samir Mohanty, state Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik, CPI(M) state secretary Ali Patnaik and Samajwadi Party (SP) state president Rabi Behera.
The chief minister, who is heading the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), sought their cooperation and requested them to boost the morale of the COVID warriors, who are working day in and day out to save precious human lives since the outbreak of the pandemic two months ago.
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To show solidarity with the COVID warriors, the chief minister urged every Odia to sing "Bande Utkal Janani", considered as the state song, at 5.30 pm on May 30.
He also informed the leaders as to how Odisha has successfully tackled the coronavirus situation and contained its spread, when many powerful nations and rich states in the country found it difficult to deal with it.
He gave all credit for it to the people of Odisha as well as the COVID warriors.
Patnaik said the COVID warriors are managing 16,000 temporary medical centres (TMCs) housing 3.5 lakh migrants in safe quarantine with an exemplary community spirit.
"They are our frontline fighters to contain the spread of COVID-19 to communities," he said.
Odisha has recorded 1,660 coronavirus cases so far, of which 887 people have recovered while seven have died.
Patnaik, who made a foray into politics after his father Biju Patnaik's demise in April 1997, has been ruling the state since 2000, but had never taken other political parties into confidence during natural calamities like cyclones and floods.
Now he has sought their cooperation for the COVID-19 pandemic, which he has described as the biggest challenge for the human race.
Welcoming Patnaik's call for support in the fight against COVID-19, Ali Patnaik said the CPI(M) will soon take a decision on singing "Bande Utkal Janani" on Saturday after discussing the matter within the party, while Rabi Behera said the SP will take part in singing the patriotic song.
Meanwhile, the chief minister also spoke to teachers and health workers, who have been infected with the virus while fighting the pandemic, and wished their speedy recovery.
He praised their courage and dedication in providing an outstanding service to the society and said they are a source of inspiration to others.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.