Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: There seems to be no end to political blame game over parking of Rs 545 crore belonging to Lord Jagannath in crisis-hit Yes Bank as Union Minister Pratap Sarangi on Monday alleged that the motive behind keeping the funds in the private bank was to earn commissions.

“It is financial misconduct and also a criminal misconduct. I heard that a bureaucrat had a foreign trip which was sponsored by Yes Bank. I will write to the Centre to conduct a thorough probe into the matter,” said Sarangi.

According to sources, a sum of Rs 592 crore belonging to Lord Jagannath was deposited in Yes Bank’s Puri branch between March 19 and 30 last year. While Rs 545 crore was kept as fixed deposit, the remaining Rs 47 crore was in a flexi account. Meanwhile, Rs 47 crore flexi deposit was withdrawn after some members raised questions during the temple managing committee meeting on December 20.

As Rs 545 crore is stuck in the cash-starved Yes Bank where RBI has ordered a 30-day moratorium on withdrawal of deposits, uncertainty looms large over Lord Jagannath’s funds.

Shree Jagannath Sena today staged protest in front of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) office protesting against the move to park the funds in Yes Bank. The outfit members alleged that SJTA has become corrupt by swindling the funds of Lord Jagannath and sprinkled holy Ganga water on office premises to purify the office.

Senior servitor Binayak Das Mahapatra said, “The issue over keeping funds in Yes Bank was not discussed in the managing committee meeting. We demand the funds must be recovered safely and action should be taken against errant officials.”

Convenor of Shree Jagannath Sena, Priyadarshan Patnaik said, “There was deal and after receiving kickbacks, they parked the money there.”

Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra also alleged that one chartered accountant and two officials are the main culprits behind the irregularities.

“The concerned chartered accountant had argued during the managing committee meeting justifying the parking of funds in Yes Bank. It seems the government has created a gang to embezzle the funds of Lord Jagannath,” Mohapatra said.

“The Accountant General had informed the Odisha government about the financial irregularities in Srimandir in 2015 itself. However, the government sat on it providing ample time for the corruption to happen,” the saffron party leader added.

Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said it should be probed who had deposited the funds in Yes Bank and under whose direction.

“Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should take steps to ensure safety of Lord Jagannath's funds,” Mishra added.

Responding to the allegations of the opposition parties, Minister Samir Dash said, “Much before the Yes Bank crisis, discussions were held during the temple managing committee meeting to shift the funds to a nationalised bank. The Centre and RBI will intervene and ensure safety of the Srimandir funds.”