Bhubaneswar, Aug. 25: The all- party prayer meeting held on Friday evening at the Exhibition Ground Bhubaneswar presented a unique spectacle of Odisha’s leaders cutting across party lines getting united on a common platform to pay their tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The prayer meeting, among others, saw Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and his bête noire Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik sharing the platform, – forsaking their inhibitions.

The other participating dignitaries and audience present at the venue had a heart-full sight to rejoice that the leaders, keeping aside their egos;  spent some time, albeit in the pretext of paying tribute to country’s one of the celebrated leader who lived for the masses, – to transmit the message of unity for the sake of promotion of humanity.

Dharmendra, who has of late turned a bitter critic of the chief minister, was seen chatting with the latter with consummate ease, sending a message that etiquette stood above anything else.

On his part, chief minister Naveen Patnaik immediately accepted the invitation to participate in the prayer meeting, thereby telling the world he knew what political etiquette is.

It was in fact a fitting tribute to a great leader who, as the world says it, – was Ajatshatru which translates in English as the man who had no enemies.

All the leaders, including the Congress leaders who are ideologically quite opposed to the BJP, – very candidly remembered Vajpayee’s contributions to build a new India. They talked about values the late Prime Minister cultivated as an individual and as a leader; spoke on the leader’s commitment to establish communal harmony, peace with neighbours and making India reliable in all fields.

The leaders also dwelt upon the love Vajpayee had for his staunch political adversaries, respecting them as distinguished leaders.

In toto, the prayer meeting offered an opportunity to the leaders of the state to cultivate the sense of etiquette, the most essential element for survival of a healthy democracy.

As Vajpayee had said it, “Leaders will come and go.  Parties will born and die. But democracy is going to stay in India.”

Probity and etiquette make an ordinary man extraordinary. It makes a leader a mass leader and mass leader into visionary statesman.

Leaders of Odisha, or for that matter of the entire country, must learn this and try to live with this truth so as to etch their names in history.

By A K Sahoo


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