Tytler Jagannath Temple visit opposed by BJD MLAs

Bhubaneswar: State Assembly on Monday witnessed verbal duels between ruling BJD MLAs and Congress members over former Union minister and Congress leader Jagdish Tytler`s visit to Sri Jaganath Temple in Puri on March 16.

 The issue was raised by former Speaker and BJD MLA from Puri Maheswar Mohanty during Zero Hour.  "While the temple prohibits entry of non-Hindus into the shrine, how was Congress leader Tytler allowed (entry to the temple)," Mohanty asked.

Seeking a ruling from the Chair for a statement from the Law minister, Mohanty said, "Tytler is a non-Hindu. Therefore, he should not have been allowed entry into the temple."

 Tytler was accompanied by some local Congress leaders who were aware of the norms followed in the 12th century shrine, Mohanty pointed out, accusing Tytler of violating the age-old tradition of the temple.

 Mohanty was supported by his party MLAs from Pipili, Brahmagiri and Nimapada in Puri district. They demanded a statement from the Law minister on the matter. Pradeep Moharathy, Samir Ranjan Dash and Sanjay Das Burma alleged that Tytler`s visit had hurt religious sentiments of priests and local people.

Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat said, "The concerned minister may make a statement in this regard."

However, Prasad Harichandan, the Congress member from Satyabadi, also in Puri district, claimed that Tytler is a Sikh whose entry is not prohibited at Sri Jagannath Temple.

"Mr Tytler had visited the temple four times earlier. This time, the BJD is making an issue out of nothing," he said. 

Stating that Tytler was born to Sikh parents and changed his surname after being influenced by his teacher J D Tytler, Harichandan said that Guru Nanak, Poet Kabir, Guru Govind Singh were welcomed at Sri Jagannath temple.

Raising doubts over secular credentials of BJD, Harichandan told reporters outside the Assembly that the ruling party had been exposed during Kandhamal riots in 2008.

Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress expressed wonder as to how the ruling BJD members came to know about Tytler`s religion.

"What evidence you (BJD MLAs) have that Tytler is a non-Hindu. He had sent his programmes to the state government before visiting the Puri temple," Singh said.
 BJP member Jaynarayan Mishra, though did not oppose Tytler`s visit to the temple, claimed that they were not ready to accept Tytler as a Sikh for his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

"He (Tytler) should be banned from visiting Orissa," the BJP member told reporters outside the Assembly.