FIR against Dharmendra for comparing ‘Chhera Panhara’ with Swachh Bharat

Bhubaneswar: Protests against Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan continue to intensify following his controversial comments comparing the ’Chhera Panhara’ rituals of Rath Yatra with the ‘Swachh Bharat’ programme.

Activists of Odisha Vikash Parishad (OVP), a Bhubaneswar-based outfit, today lodged a complaint at Kharavel Nagar Police Station demanding an apology from the Union Minister.

The outfit alleged that the Union Minister’s statements are an insult to lakhs of devotees and followers of Jagannath culture across the state.

Susant Kumar Padhi, president of OVP said “It is a matter of great shame that the Union Minister through his remarks has not only disgraced the culture of Lord Jagannath but also indirectly insulted the Puri King, the first servitor of the holy Trinity. This has hurt the sentiments of culture-lovers in the state. So we demand that the minister should immediately seek apology from the people of the state.”

On the other hand, defending Pradhan’s comments, Odisha BJP vice president Samir Mohanty said the development is a BJD-instigated move.

“Just like in the past when BJD spokespersons used names like ‘Bahari’, ‘Bihari’, ‘Daka peon’ against Dharmendra Pradhan, these protests are also BJD-sponsored. But we should be aware that the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was propounded by none other than Mahatma Gandhi and is deeply ingrained in Jagannath culture as well,” Mohanty said.

Earlier, senior BJD leader Damodar Rout and Minister Pratap Jena had also criticised Pradhan over his controversial remarks. On Thursday, servitors of Puri Jagannath temple also staged a dharna in the pilgrim town demanding that the Union Minster should seek forgiveness before Lord Jagannath and apology from the Puri King.