Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: A day after Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb revealed his shock that State government did not want this year’s Rath Yatra to happen, Opposition parties today came down heavily on the BJD-led government over the controversy.

State Congress leader Arya Kumar Gyanendra said that Puri Gajapati has exposed the real motive of the government before crores of Jagannath devotees. Gajapati’s June 20-letter to the State govt was extremely crucial wherein he expressed his true feelings and concerns if the festival is not conducted, the Congress leader said.

“Why was Harish Salve roped in to represent Odisha govt in the case in Supreme Court and who paid for him,” Gyanendra questioned.

“Apprehending that the Centre might take mileage by intervening in the matter after Gajapati wrote a letter seeking reconsideration of the Supreme Court decision to cancel the Rath Yatra, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik scampered to approach the top court at the very last moment, he added.

'Harish Salve probably did not have any idea as he was in London so why was he brought into the case. Those who were beating their chest with an arrogance that they loved Lord Jagannath have now been badly exposed.'

BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan also hit out at the government and alleged that it did not properly manage the issue.

“The government should first clarify as to why it did not listen to the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee’s May 5th proposal in which they suggested an alternative way to conduct the Rath Yatra without devotees and waited for the last moment only to allow the apex court to intervene,” Harichandan said.

"I don’t want to give any political colour to Gajapati’s comments as it would dishonour him. The government’s plan for Rath Yatra was really faulty, so it should come up with a clarification," he added.

In an exclusive interview to OTV, Puri Gajapati who was in the thick of the Rath Yatra saga gave a first-hand account of what transpired in one of the most defining episodes in the history of the Jagannath Culture.

Gajapati said that instead of letting the fate of Rath Yatra hang in balance till the last minute, Odisha government should have taken a decision on that very day (June 9) when the High Court had put the ball in its court saying that the State govt is free to decide.

Gajapati pointed out that it never occurred to him that the Odisha government did not want Rath Yatra to be organized.

“I was crestfallen after hearing the argument of the State government in the Supreme Court,” he told OTV.

(Edited By Bikram Keshari Jena)

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