Mrunal Manmay Dash

A political outrage erupted on Thursday after visuals of Habishyalis singing bhajans praising Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Puri surfaced on social media.

As per reports, the Habishyalis are currently in Puri to perform the annual Habisha rituals under the State government-sponsored programme. However, controversy was stoked after widows were seen praising CM Naveen through bhajans in the presence of district administration officials.

The bhajan included all kinds of praise from the saviour of the elderly to ‘Karunasagar’ and Lord Jagannath’s ‘Chalanti Pratima’, forcing the Opposition to allege that the administration has written the bhajan and made them sing in order to create goodwill in favour of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ahead of the 2024 elections.

Slamming the government, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Pravati Parida said, “CM Naveen is compared with Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar in the bhajan and the administration has drafted it. The bhajan also claims that CM Naveen is kind enough to bring these widows to Puri in vehicles and provide them food and shelter in Puri for Habisha.”

“I think the state government is neck deep in ego. They are drawing parallels with Lord Jagannath which is a direct hit on the religious sentiments of millions of Jagannath devotees across the globe,” she said.

The Congress party too took offence in the bhajan. Speaking to reporters, Congress leader and former OPCC Chief, Jayadev Jena said, “The State government has arranged people and wrote songs praising Naveen Patnaik, so that the elderly could be influenced to vote for the BJD in the elections.”

However, the BJD refuted all the allegations. Reacting to the media, BJD MLA, Prashant Muduli said, “Habishyalis go Puri to surrender before Lord Jagannath. During their stay, they get completely engrossed in the worshipping of the Lord. So, if they praise CM Naveen a bit, their should not be any controversy in it.”

(Reported By Pradeep Mohanty, OTV)