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Ramakanta Biswas

With the Odisha government remaining firm on its decision capping the height of idol of goddess Durga to 4 feet for the upcoming Durga Puja, the Cuttack Shanti (peace) committee on Saturday decided to approach Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as a last resort in seeking relaxations.

As per the decision of the committee, it will make an appeal to the Chief Minister by September 16 to reconsider the decision on the height of Durga idols. 

"We expect a reply from the CM by September 17. The committee will meet again on September 17 to decide the next course of action,” said a member of the committee.

Earlier in the day, a meeting of the members of the Shanti Committee and Puja Committee was organised in Cuttack. Tension erupted during the meeting after some members created ruckus when former BJD MLA Prabhat Biswal made statement on the government's decision on the idol height. 

Expressing his views on the restrictions on idol height, BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said small size of idol means obstructions. Terming the decision of the State government laughable, he said anybody can move the court challenging the decision. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already called for a bandh in Cuttack opposing the restrictions. "Resentments among people over the guidelines issued by the Odisha government, particularly limiting the height of Durga idols to 4 feet, is growing day-by-day. The voice of protest against such guidelines which will hurt the 1000-year-old tradition is getting louder from every nook and corner of the city. The people are finding it difficult to accept this decision of the government," Cuttack Nagar BJP president Lalatendu Badu had said.

The issue over the height of the idol has also heated up the political atmosphere in the State. BJP leader Samir Dey raised questions over the meeting of the government with the members of puja committee and people’s representatives. 
“In the meeting, the present and former MLA of the ruling party were invited which resulted in biased decision.  The BJD government does not want that Durga Puja is celebrated in Cuttack this year,” Dey alleged.

Congress MLA Mohammad Moqim said, “It is unfortunate that no decision was taken during the meeting. Later, the government upheld the earlier guidelines without reconsidering the pleas of the puja committees.”
Meanwhile, Balu Bazaar Puja Committee is planning to move the Orissa High Court challenging the restrictions of the State government. 

The President of the puja committee Suryakant Sanganeria said, “We are worshiping 8 feet height Durga idol since 1914 and it is not possible to change the tradition.”

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