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An idol collapse, and stray remarks by BJP ministers, give Naveen Patnaik ammo to target Odisha CM | India News

For the newly formed BJP government in Odisha, smoothly conducting the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath was the first major challenge, given the arrangements required for the nine-day festival that drew over two million people to Puri.

The death of a devotee due to suffocation and the collapse of an idol on several people, though, has given the opposition BJD, led by Naveen Patnaik, a handle to target the state government.

In a letter to Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi, Patnaik wrote, “The mishap which occurred during Adapa Pahandi of Bada Thakura (Lord Balabhadra) has hurt Jagannath devotees across the globe. I am also deeply hurt. The manner in which Bada Thakura fell on the Charamala (steps of the chariot) was quite heart-wrenching and has never happened in the history of Rath Yatra.” This is the first direct attack on the CM by Patnaik since he took charge as leader of opposition in the state.

On July 9, the idol fell while being taken off the chariot during the Pahandi ritual (ceremonial procession) to Gundicha temple. At least seven servitors sustained injuries.

Though Majhi sent his deputy Pravati Parida and law minister Prithiviraj Harichandan to Puri to monitor the situation, the ministers faced criticism for trying to downplay the incident.

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“It was Leelamaya’s Leela (an act of God). The incident should be accepted as god’s will. God saved the servitors, who escaped unhurt,” said Parida on Wednesday.
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The law minister had also called it a minor accident. “It should be treated as a divine play exhibited by the lord. There should not be much discussion over the issue. We are taking steps for smooth conduct of Rath Yatra in future,” said Harichandan.

Patnaik, in his letter, said the “lacklustre comments” by the ministers have further pained devotees.

“Mahaprabhu is the guardian of Odia community and the centre of faith. I request you to take personal responsibility to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future. Some exemplary steps from you are required,” said Patnaik.

During the Rath Yatra, the idols are placed on three huge decorated chariots. This is followed by the Pahandi ritual (ceremonial procession), before marching for around three kilometres to the Gundicha temple, the birthplace of the deities

Puri’s erstwhile royal and chairman of the Jagannath Temple managing committee also expressed concern over the fall of the idol, while senior servitors demanded stern action against those responsible for the mishap.

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

First uploaded on: 11-07-2024 at 18:40 IST


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