Odisha CM Slams BJP's Patra Over Controversial Lord Jagannath Remark

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik has criticized BJP's Sambit Patra for stating that Lord Jagannath is a devotee of PM Modi, calling it an insult to Odia pride. Patra clarified it was a slip of tongue, but opposition leaders and the Trinamool Congress condemned the statement, emphasizing its impact on religious sentiments.

PTI | Bhubaneswar | Updated: 21-05-2024 00:08 IST | Created: 21-05-2024 00:08 IST
Odisha CM Slams BJP's Patra Over Controversial Lord Jagannath Remark
File photo. Image Credit: ANI
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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday appealed to the BJP to keep Lord Jagannath above the political discourse, after the saffron party's Puri candidate Sambit Patra's remark that the state's most revered deity is a ''devotee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi'' sparked a stir.

Patra, however, later clarified that it was a slip of tongue and he wanted to mean that the PM was an ardent 'bhakt' (devotee) of Lord Jagannath and not the other way round.

Patnaik, in an X post, criticised Patra for hurting Odia 'asmita' (pride).

''Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha is the Lord of the Universe. Calling Mahaprabhu a 'bhakt' of another human being is an insult to the Lord... it is totally condemnable. This has hurt the sentiments and demeaned the faith of crores of Jagannatha bhaktas and Odias across the world.

''The Lord is the greatest symbol of Odia asmita. I strongly denounce the statement... and I appeal to the BJP to keep the Lord above any political discourse. By this, you have deeply hurt Odia asmita and this will be remembered and condemned by people of Odisha for a very long time,'' he said.

Patra, while responding to the CM's post, said that ''we all have slip of tongue sometimes''.

''I gave a number of bytes today to multiple media channels after the massive success of Shri Narendra Modiji's road show in Puri today, everywhere I mentioned that Modi ji is an ardent 'bhakt' of Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu.

''By mistake during one of the bytes, I said just the opposite... I know you too know and understand this... Sir let's not make an issue out of a nonexistent issue... we all have slip of tongue sometimes,'' Patra said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also condemned the statement of the BJP candidate.

''I strongly condemn this statement of the BJP. They have started thinking that they are above God. This is a height of arrogance. Calling God bhakt of Modi ji is an insult to God,'' he posted on X.

AICC in-charge of Odisha, Ajoy Kumar, also condemned the statement, posting on X, ''The country and Odisha will not tolerate this insult of Lord Jagannath!'' Meanwhile, the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) moved the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) alleging that Patra violated the model code of conduct. The party's Puri candidate Jayanarayan Patnaik also lodged a complaint against Patra with Town police station in Puri.

The OPCC, in its petition to the CEO, said that Patra's statement is an ''act of offensive indulgence to insult the religious beliefs of the devotees of Lord Jagannath in particular and Hindu community of our country and Odia people at large and it was clearly spoken with a deliberate and malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of millions of devotees of Lord Jagannath''.

Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress said the sentiments of millions of people across the country have been hurt by the ''blasphemous'' statement of Patra.

West Bengal minister and senior party leader Chandrima Bhattacharya, in a video message in Bengali, said, ''Sambit Patra has crossed all limits of arrogance and audacity, it will be an understatement that he has hurt the sentiments of lakhs of devotees of the Lord. He has actually committed an act of blasphemy and has shown that BJP professes scant respect for our gods. He has made a mockery of faith and beliefs of Hindus. It is unthinkable that someone can utter such a thing.'' She said lakhs of devotees, who visit the famed Jagannath temple in Puri every year from West Bengal, will not accept Patra's ''afterthought apology'' made in the wake of massive protests in Odisha and elsewhere.

''People of Odisha and Bengal will teach him and his party BJP a lesson for such a blasphemous remark,'' she said.

The TMC, in its official X handle, said, ''BJP candidate from Puri Sambit Patra hit a new low by claiming that even Lord Jagannath is a bhakt of PM Modi. By dragging Mahaprabhu's name into their petty political discourse just to prop up the Prime Minister's image, BJP has hurt the sentiments of crores of devotees not just in Bengal but worldwide.'' The BJD president's attack on the BJP came on the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah raising the issue of Ratna Bhandar (treasury) of Lord Jagannath in poll rallies.

Addressing two election rallies in Angul and Cuttack on Monday, Modi raised the Ratna Bhandar missing key issue and sought to know why the BJD ''suppressed the judicial commission report'' on the matter.

''The BJD's role in the case is suspicious. After the BJP forms the government in Odisha, it will make the report public,'' Modi said. Patra is in the fray in the Puri parliamentary constituency for the second consecutive time. He was defeated in the seat in 2019 by BJD's Pinaki Mishra at a margin of only 11,784 votes.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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