Bhubaneswar/Puri: Senior leader Bijoy Mohapatra targeted Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb today over the latter’s comments following ruckus at Srimandir on December 28. Mohapatra stated that the Gajapati should not try to avoid the issue which delayed rituals of the deities of Srimandir.

Slamming the State government, the senior leader said it should not try to pass the buck through ‘cheap’ statements. “People of the state are hurt. Even though the temple administration was aware, it did not show any interest to ensure timely rituals and disciplined darshan. The situation could have been averted if the administration had been on alert,” the leader added.

“The Gajapati should not forget that he is the temple management committee chairman and is the first person to serve the deities. Therefore, people pay respect to him. He should not forget he has a responsibility to ensure discipline inside temple. He should carry out his responsibility and the state government should do its duties. Both the State government and Gajapati should not take the issue lightly,” Mohapatra alleged.

Responding to Mohapatra, the office of the Puri Gajapati stated that the Shree Jagannath Temple Act was implemented in 1960 following which the State government took over the management of the Srimandir from the Gajapati since then. The SJTA chief administrator has been handling all the administrative issues.

As chairman of the temple managing committee, the Gajapati only chairs the committee meeting. Apart from this there is no role in management of the temple. As per the tradition, Gajapati only provides his services to the deities, the statement read.

State BJP vice president, Samir Mohanty said “The Gajapati is at the centre of faith and it is not right to criticise him.”

“It seems Mohapatra has not read Odisha’s history. To upkeep prestige of Lord Jagannath, the family of the Gajapati has sacrificed a lot. Had he (Mohapatra) read the history books, he would not have made such comments. The people of Odisha know who makes cheap statements,” commented Ashok Mohapatra, vice president of the Muktimandap Pandit Sabha.

Meanwhile, mounting his attack on the State government over ruckus in Srimandir, PCC president Niranjan Patnaik said, “If the government has all the responsibility of Srimandir, what responsibility is left for the Gajapati. The matter could have been resolved through talks. When the State government is unable to manage the issues of Lord Jagannath, how can it handle affairs of four crore people,” stated Niranjan Patnaik, PCC president.

Clearing the State government’s stance, Law minister Pratap Jena said, “Whatever happened at Srimandir is sad and we are aware of the issue. We have been discussing the matter with servitors. Any kind of disruption in rituals of Lord Jagannath will not be tolerated.”

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