CM returns without darshan of deities

Puri: In a departure from practice, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who offers prayers in sanctom sanctorum of Shri Jagannath temple on the New Year`s day, today returned without having `darshan` soon after entering the shrine premises.

Clad in his regular spotless white kurta and pyajama, Patnaik entered the 12th century shrine through the `Singhadwar` (Lion`s Gate) and started climbing the famous `Baisi Pahacha` (22 steps) of the temple.

While climbing the steps, Patnaik did not allow ministers and supporters in close proximity and was heard saying "…Where is the SP (Superintendent of Police)? Who is SP here?", sources in the temple administration said.

SP A N Sinha immediately appeared before Patnaik and vacated the area, sources said, adding the local MLA and Panchyatiraj minister Maheswar Mohanty was seen at a distance as also other leaders and supporters.

Patnaik stopped at the seventh step and prayed with folded hands there. Then he went out of the temple complex and proceeded towards `Swargadwar`, the cremation ground on the sea beach, to pay homage to his father and former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik at his statue `Biju Samadhi Pitha`.

Asked why the chief minister did not go into the sanctom, sevayats (servitors) and security personnel claimed ignorance and said: "Naveen Babu was moving without the stick he had been holding ever since leg injury he sustained about two months ago. He might have faced problems in climbing the stairs without stick".