Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik met Pope Francis in Vatican City Wednesday.
Patnaik was accompanied by his private secretary VK Pandian to the meeting on the third day of his trip to Italy.
On behalf of the people of Odisha, the chief minister presented a ‘Patachitra’ painting to the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church, and sought his blessings, an official statement issued by his office in Bhubaneswar said.
“It has been an absolute pleasure meeting His Holiness Pope Francis (@Pontifex) in Vatican City. Thanked him for the warm audience and wished him good health and a long life,” Patnaik tweeted after the meeting.
Many priests and sisters from India, who were at the Vatican, were happy to see Patnaik. They wished him well, the statement said.
Patnaik is in Italy at the invitation of the World Food Program (WFP), and would share the transformative initiatives of Odisha in the field of food security and disaster management.
This is Patnaik’s second foreign trip as chief minister of Odisha in the last 22 years. He will also visit Dubai and meet investors during this 11-day tour.
BJP took a dig at Patnaik for not meeting Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati of Govardhan Peeth in Puri even once during his 22-year rule.
“It would have been better had Patnaik met the Shankaracharya at least once as head of a secular government,” BJP spokesperson Biranchi Tripathi said.