Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Congress party lambasted the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)-led Odisha government on Monday accusing it of turning Lord Jagannath into a beggar.

Addressing a press conference in Bhubaneswar, Congress leader Bijay Patnaik said, “The Odisha government is being run by a non-Odia ideology. The government does not know the essence of Srimandir. They think of it as only a tourist place and beautifying its periphery based on that thought.”

Patnaik raked up the Kamiya Jani row and said, “BJD made a beef-eater enter Srimandir in order to promote the Mahaprasad. When questioned, the BJD asked for the proof of the allegations. The lady promoted beef on her blog and had said in one the video that she liked it. She might have pulled down the content following the uproar in Odisha. It is strange that the BJD did not find anybody else to promote Mahaprasad. Moreover, Mahaprasad is not a food item on a restaurant’s menu. It does not need promotion.”

Coming back to Arpan Rath, Patnaik said, “The BJD has made Lord Jagannath’s idols sit behind trucks and ask for rice by going door to door. Had the BJD understood Jagannath culture and known Odia pride, they would not have made Lord Jagannath go door to door like a beggar. I am so much hurt seeing Lord Jagannath being used to beg. Lord Jagannath gives food to the mouth of his devotees, he does not go out begging for rice.”

“Even the rice collected from the people in the name of Lord Jagannath is being used by BJD members to eat in feasts. I have seen many such instances in a lot of places in Odisha. I don’t understand why the BJD is indulging in such kind of farce,” Patnaik questioned.

“They have begun a grand ceremony with public money for inaugurating four toilets near Srimandir. While I do not have anything against doing Yajna and Puja in Parikrama Project, but before inaugurating it on January 17, I request Naveen Patnaik to stand barefoot on the entrance of Srimandir and apologise before Lord Jagannath for his mistake,” he said.

No BJD leader or minister was available for comment on Patnaik’s allegations.

Meanwhile, the State unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) targeted the Odisha government saying Lord Jagannath does not belong to any particular political party.

During a cleanliness drive at Ram Mandir in Bhubaneswar Odisha BJP chief Manmohan Samal said, “Lord Jagannath had to move outside the Temple to meet his devotee Salabega. This is purely a BJD programme. People should decide whether we should join the Parikrama Project inauguration or not.”

In response to Samal, BJD MLA, Amar Satapathy said, “This is not a party programme. In fact, it is a religious event. The State government and the Temple Administration are doing it. Everybody should come to the inauguration programme.”