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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Odisha government’s firm decision to cap the height of idols of Goddess Durga to four feet during the upcoming festivities this year has triggered a political storm in the State. The development has also exposed the internal feud fuelling between the members of the ruling BJD discordant over the stricture on the idol height.

Extending his support to Odisha government, former BJD MLA Debashish Samantaray on Sunday slammed senior party leader and MP Bhartuhari Mahtab for opposing the move.

A day before, expressing his views on the restrictions on idol height, BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab had said that small size of idol means obstructions in ‘Puja’. 

“I don’t think Covid could be kept in bay by reducing the height of the idols by two and half feet,” Mahtab had said.

Terming the decision of the State government as ridiculous, the senior leader said anybody could move the court challenging the decision.

On the other hand, hitting back at Mahtab, Samantaray said the MP shouldn’t try to create disturbances in Cuttack town by opposing the decision of the State government.

“Keeping the possible third wave in view, the decision has been taken to put a curb the pandemic. There is no logic behind Mahtab’s opposition to the move,” said Samantaray.

The former MLA said, there has been no mention of the height of the idol in any scripture. Hence Mahatab’s claim of ‘obstruction in puja’ is unjustified and unacceptable.

“Mahtab was never present in the scene ever since the cap on idol controversy erupted. A wise MP like him shouldn’t question the decision at this crucial juncture,” he said alleging that politics is being played over the sentiments of Cuttack people.

Meanwhile, State BJP has requested Cuttack netizens, business establishments and puja committees to extend their full support to make the 12-hour dawn to dusk Cuttack bandh successful tomorrow. The bandh has been called protesting the Odisha government’s decision not to grant relaxations during the upcoming festive season.

Senior BJP leader Samir Dey said that the party will observe the bandh from 6 am to 6 pm in Cuttack. The Bandh has been called to protect the interest of the people and senior members of puja committee and civil society, he said.

“All the business and other commercial establishments in the city will remain closed tomorrow during the Bandh. We appeal the residents of Cuttack to support the Bandh which has been called against the State government that did not pay any heed to the demands of the puja committees and its members; and, it is no less than an insult,” said Dey.

The senior BJP leader also targeted the Odisha government and Mahtab and alleged that there is no coordination between the administration and the government. 

Dey alleged that if the Chief Minister was unaware, why the meeting with the Puja Committee members was convened. He also questioned whether the Cuttack MP was unaware of the controversy over the idol height and asked why a meeting with the Chief Minister was not scheduled earlier.

Meanwhile, all the puja committee members have also assured to extend their full support to the bandh.

“It’s a question of self respect for all the people of Cuttack. We will fully support the bandh in our protest against the government restrictions during Puja,” said Naresh Sahu, Secretary of Firingi Bazar Puja Commitee.

With less than a month left for Durga Puja and the opposition putting so much pressure on the State administration, it remains to be seen whether the curb on the heights of the idols are lifted or not.

(Edited by Suryakant Jena)

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