BJP leaders lock horns over Missing Ratna Bhandar key

Bhubaneswar: At a time when there is a public outcry across over the missing Ratna Bhandar key of Puri Srimandir in Odisha, the BJP seems to be facing the heat over the issue due to war of words between two senior leaders.

Two senior leaders of the saffron party have now locked horns with each other after Bijoy Mohapatra raised questions on performance and reforms implemented at the 12th century shrine by the Law department during the BJP-BJD coalition government between 2000 and 2009.

Mohapatra yesterday had questioned what steps were taken by his party regarding Ratna Bhandar during the nine years of coalition government.

Quoting the statement of Puri Shankaracharya Nischalananda Saraswati, Mohapatra had said the Law department was under the BJP during the coalition government between 2000 and 2009. What changes and reforms were brought in the rituals of the Srimandir by the BJP during that period, he asked.

Reacting sharply over senior party leader Bijoy Mohapatra’s comments, party leader Biswa Bhusan Harichandan today stated “Not only the government but there are some other people who are also rattled by the BJP’s protests over missing Ratna Bhandar key.”

Harichandan further stated that, it is really very unfortunate and ridiculous to note that none from the ruling party nor any organisations as well as stakeholders in the matter have made such comments.  Bijoy Mohapatra should have understood all the aspects and collected information before commenting anything on the issue, he added.

Biswa Bhusan Harichandan further stated that a number of major reforms were undertaken during his term as Law Minister in the BJP-BJD coalition government.

The Jagannath Temple Act was reformed and the temple management committee was upgraded. Earlier, a joint secretary rank IAS officer used to be the administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple. But after the reforms, an additional chief secretary level officer was made the executive chairman of the temple and another officer with RDC rank was made chief administrator.

From installation of hundis outside the Puri Srimandir and near Jayadev Bhawan for collection of donations at Bhubaneswar, construction of Neelachal Bhakta Niwas- a huge dormitory for devotees, insurance facilities, renovation of Ananda Bazaar, setting up of high mast lights all around Meghanad Pacheri and other reforms were implemented after I took charge of the Law department after 2004, Harichandan informed during a presser today.

“We urge the Odisha government to open the Ratna Bhandar immediately and inspect the condition whether the valuables stashed in it are safe and publish a report on the matter as the matter is sensitive and deeply rooted with the senitiments of devotees,” Harichandan added.

Continuining with its ongoing strategy to corner Odisha government, BJP leaders including vice president Sameer Mohanty, Rama Ranjan Baliarsingh, Pitambar Acharya and others today filed a complaint at Puri Singhadwar police station on the missing Ratna Bhandar key issue.

In a related incident, activists of Jagannath Sena also lodged a complaint alleging misappropriation of four to five kilogram gold present in the Hundi by officials of the temple.

As per a report of the Odisha Gazette, a Hundi (donation box) was installed at the Natya Mandap in Puri Srimandir in the year 1983.

In the last 34 years, 18.26 kg gold and 119.78 kg silver ornaments were received as donation from the Hundi while only 14.56 kg gold was transferred to a locker of the State Bank of India (SBI) four days ago. There is no information about the rest four to five kilogram gold, as per an RTI report which has now sparked a controversy.