Make Nabakalebar funds public: BJP

Bhubaneswar: Alleging irregularities in preparations for Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebar festival, BJP today asked the Odisha government to make public details of funds provided and expenditure made on different works.

“The state government should present before the people all details relating to funds allocated for different works for Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebar festival and expenditure made during the preparation,” senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra told reporters here.

People should know how much money was provided and how much had been spent on different heads as irregularities were suspected to have taken place in various works being done for development of infrastructure for the mega festival, he said.

Accusing the BJD government of being inefficient, callous and arrogant while handling Nabakalebar projects, Mohapatra said major works relating to road construction, health care facilities and drinking water arrangement were still incomplete though Rath Yatra is scheduled on July 18.

“We are witnessing failure after failure due to inaction on the part of government,” the BJP leader said, holding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for gross mismanagement right from search of “Daru”, sacred neem trees for carving out new idols of the Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshan.

All important rituals that followed saw deviation and mismanagement, he said adding that finally Brahma Paribartan fiasco has triggered widespread public anger.

Hitting out at the chief minister, Mohapatra said it is “ridiculous” that Patnaik has made elaborate arrangements for inauguration of several Nabakalebar projects tomorrow while major works remain incomplete.

The BJP leader also slammed the chief minister for reportedly pulling up the state’s Director General of Police for touching the feet of Daitapati priests and said it was meaningless at this juncture as the incident had taken place in April.

Though BJP had demanded a statement from the chief minister on Brahma Paribartan ritual fiasco, a judicial probe into the episode and sacking of the chief administrator of Sri Jagannath Temple Administration for mismanagement, these are yet to be met, Mohapatra said.

He also accused the government of not consulting Puri Shankaracharya and Gajapati of Puri Divya Singha Deb about Nabakalebar festival.

Meanwhile, Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan said the government had “completely failed” to upgrade the infrastructure ahead of the Nabakelabar festival in Puri on July 18.

He said even as the Nabakalebar rath yatra was just a few days away, the Naveen Patnaik government had failed to ensure basic amenities and other infrastructure for the smooth conduct of the festival.

The government expects about 50 lakh devotees during Nabakalebar, which is an ancient festival during which the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are replaced by a new set of idols.

Stating that the government had limited itself to only conducting review meetings, Harichandan said it had been extending its own deadlines for the completion of the Nabakalebar work.

“First, it said all infrastructure projects would be completed by March 31; then the time was extended to May 15. Realising that the work would not be completed by this time as well, the state government extended the deadline to June 30. Now, it has set a fresh deadline of July 10,” the PCC president remarked.