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Suryakant Jena

Puri: Amid emphasis on a fundraising drive for Puri Jagannath temple in the lines of Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyan, politics has hot up in Odisha over taking credit for the development of the 12th-century shrine.

On February 27, three resolutions were passed in the State Assembly under the heritage corridor development project for Puri Lord Jagannath Temple and one of them was collection of funds from devotees around the world.

A day later, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan donated Rs 1 lakh from his salary for the development of the temple and also urged others to come forward for the noble cause.

On Friday, Pradhan also shot a letter to Puri Gajapati seeking his guidance and leadership in launching a massive fundraising drive for the temple from people around the world in the lines of Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyan for Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

In his letter, the union minister has also assured every kind of legal assistance from the Centre too. He requested the Gajapati to act as a bridge between the Centre and State for a smooth realisation of the ambitious drive.

Responding to Pradhan's suggestions, Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb on Saturday asserted that he along with the temple administration will take every possible step for the all-round development of Lord Jagannath temple.

State Law Minister Pratap Jena also wasted little time in presenting Odisha government's support towards the matter.

Sevayats of Srimandir and the common man have welcomed the efforts from the various quarters for the development of the temple.

Senior servitor Souyendra Muduli said, it is not just the responsibility of the Gajapati but sevaks, devotees, and other people from all around the world must voluntarily step in for the cause.

"It is probably what Lord Jagannath himself wants. That is why we are witnessing such massive developments on all fronts of Srimandir," said Muduli.

Meanwhile, Dharmendra's letter to Gajapati has created a whirlwind of speculations in State politics.

Congress State president Niranjan Patnaik said even though the suggestions on fundraising for Srimandir development is a welcome step, it is very unfortunate to see that matter of serious importance be it the Rath Yatra, Puri Temple, issues like this are being politicised.

Pinaki Mishra, Puri MP and senior BJD leader, said Odisha government is urging all not to politicise any matter pertaining to Puri Jagannath Temple. People from all walks of life and cutting across party lines are welcomed to take the proposal of Samarpan Nidhi Abhiyan forward.

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