Pradeep Pattanayak

The ‘Parikrama Rath’ (Arpan Rath) initiative is being viewed as counterproductive for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) as it is getting mired in controversies.  

In Telkoi block of Keonjhar district, as many as 22 sarpanches resigned from their posts alleging that the district administration is neglecting them in the ‘Parikrama Rath’ programme. They alleged that the block development officer (BDO) of Telkoi had promised them to give Rs 2 lakhs each. But, now he has written letters to them informing they would be paid Rs 1 lakh each. 

“The administration is not cooperating with us. Rs 2 lakh has been given to each panchayat for celebrations. Let alone Rs 2 lakh, we have not received even Rs 200,” complained Pangela Munda, sarpanch, Telkoi. 

In Bhadrak’s Basudevpur, the sarpanches are also angry. They alleged they had spent money from their own pockets for the ‘Parikrama Rath’ programme. Later the BDO said the block administration would do everything. 

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Similar complaints are also coming from Cuttack City. Here, the corporators have alleged that they have been sidelined. Going one step ahead, Nilagiri Baunsabania sarpanch alleged that the money sanctioned is falling short to implement the Arpan Rath programme. 
“If the guidelines of the programme are to be followed, then much more money would be required,” said Nilagiri Baunsabania sarpanch, Niranjan Barik. 

Expressing his anger, Cuttack Municipal Corporation’s corporator Santosh Bhol said, “As the government money is being spent, why they are engaging only their own party workers? If you are not doing politics over Lord Jagannath, then involve everyone in the project.”

At places, common people too are getting critical of the government. 

Local residents of Khariar NAC took exception to converting a garbage-lifting vehicle into a Parikrama Rath. Similarly, the people of Basala panchayat got infuriated over the Arpan Rath being devoid of Lord Jagannath’s statue. Irate people smeared ink on V K Pandian's poster as a mark of protest. 

“After the people did not find Lord Jagannath’s photo, they blackened the portrait of VK Pandian in protest,” said Sudhakar Satpathy, a Basala resident.