‘Bribe’ to servitors: Pressure mounts on govt to come clean

Bhubaneswar: The issue of payment of Rs 2 crore to Daitapati servitors, termed as bribe by various quarters, by way of ‘compensation’ for the ‘loss’ suffered by them due to the ban on devotees climbing the chariots further Rath Yatra last year is fast turning out to be a hot potato for the state government with pressure mounting on it to come clean on the actual amount paid.

Arguing that the people of Odisha have a right to know, the BJP on Wednesday sought a clarification from the government on whether Rs 2 crore was all that was paid to the Daitapatis or more money has been paid clandestinely.

‘The State government displayed such incompetence in carrying out the orders of the Orissa High Court that it had to pay money to the servitors to keep them in good humour. Records show only Rs 2 crore has been paid to servitors. This money has been paid out of the exchequer and the State government should clarify under what circumstances the money has been paid. It also has to clarify whether more money has been paid to the servitors,” said BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit.

“In order to resolve a particular administrative issue, budget is prepared and funds are released for the purpose. If money has been paid over and above this Rs 2 crore, the concerned departments should be able to give an account of it,” said BJD’s Sashibhushan Behera in reply.

On the other hand, Ama Odisha party president Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said that the state government should not have made it look like it is bribing the servitors.

“There was a need for some compensation for the servitors. If the government decided to pay some compensation, then it should have done it openly and not in a clandestine manner,” said Patnaik.

Patnaik also said that there has to be a crackdown on the servitors. “Why should one visit Puri? To see the hooliganism of these servitors? The only way such hooliganism can be reined in is by planning for a second Srimandir.”