Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and party’s Puri Lok Sabha candidate Sambit Patra, who courted controversy for his remarks relating to Lord Jagannath, cleared the air around his statement by saying that he was apologetic for his ‘slip of the tongue’. The saffron party leader also said that he will offer penance by observing fast for three days.

“After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Puri, I gave byte to many media channels and everywhere I said the same thing that PM Modi is an ardent devotee of Mahaprabhu Jagannath... Amid this, unknowingly, while giving byte to a news channel, I said the opposite, that Mahaprabhu is a devotee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I have made this mistake unintentionally, it’s a slip of the tongue,” said Patra in a clarification on his social media account X (earlier known as Twitter).

“I pray to the Lord to forgive me for the mistake that was made unintentionally... I need to seek forgiveness from Mahaprabhu Jagannath for this slip of the tongue and I have decided to do fasting for three days as an apology,” he added.

Notably, Patra sparked a controversy in Odisha on Monday after he told a local news channel that ‘Lord Jagannath is a devotee (bhakt) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’. He later termed it as a ‘slip of the tongue’.

Earlier, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik condemned Patra’s remarks and deemed it an insult to Lord Jagannath.

“Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha is the Lord of Universe. Calling Mahaprabhu a bhakt of another human being is an insult to the Lord. This has hurt the sentiments and demeaned the faith of crores of Jagannatha bhaktas and Odias across the world. The Lord is the greatest Symbol of Odia Asmita. Calling Mahaprabhu a bhakt of another human being is totally condemnable.”

“I strongly denounce the statement made by the BJP Puri Lok Sabha candidate and I appeal to the BJP to keep the Lord above any political discourse. By this you have deeply hurt Odia Asmita and this will be remembered and condemned by people of Odisha for a very long time,” he added.

Patra, however, dubbed it a ‘slip of the tongue’ and urged Patnaik not to make an ‘issue out of a nonexistent issue’.

AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge also slammed Patra over the development. “The comments made by BJP’s Puri candidate is an insult to Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha revered by crores of people. We condemn it in the strongest possible words...,” he wrote on X.

Sambit Patra is trying his luck again from Puri Lok Sabha seat. He had unsuccessfully contested the constituency in 2019.

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