Odisha: Congress, BJP unlikely to attend Puri heritage corridor inauguration on Jan 17

NewsDrum Desk
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Puri heritage corridor project.jpg

Bhubaneswar: Leaders of the opposition Congress and the BJP in Odisha are unlikely to attend the inauguration of the heritage corridor project surrounding the Jagannath temple in Puri on January 17, calling it a "political event".

Congress legislative party leader Narasingha Mishra said that he would boycott the inauguration event.

"As the BJP is using the Ram temple in Ayodhya for political gains, the BJD here is using the heritage corridor project for electoral gains. The government is using the public exchequer to further the ruling BJD's electoral prospects," he alleged.

Mishra claimed that like the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the heritage corridor project in Puri is yet to be complete.

"The reception centre that was promised is yet to be built. What is the point of attending the inauguration of an incomplete project?" he asked.

He made the statement after the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) invited him to the event.

State Congress's campaign committee chairman Bijay Pattnaik said the heritage corridor project involved the removal of certain obstructions outside the Jagannath temple and the construction of toilets for the convenience of devotees.

"What is the need of collecting betel nuts and rice from the people, and invoking Lord Jagannath for the inauguration of toilets? By collecting rice from the household, the BJD government turned Lord Jagannath into a beggar. And, the ruling party workers used the collected rice for their feast," he alleged.

He sought an apology from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for "hurting the sentiments" of devotees.

State BJP president Manmohan Samal said Lord Jagannath does not belong to any particular political party.

"The BJD has been using the lord for its political benefits," Samal alleged while taking part in a sanitation drive at the Ram temple in Bhubaneswar.

"The inauguration event of the Srimandir Parikrama Prakalpa is purely a party programme. People must decide if we should attend the inauguration programme," he said.

BJP's state vice president Golak Mohapatra said that there is no point in attending a function where two toilets will be opened to the public.

Rejecting the allegations, BJD MLA Amar Prasad Satpathy said the inauguration of the Srimandir Parikrama Prakalpa is a religious programme.

"The heritage corridor project will script history. It is not an event of a political party as the state government, 'Gajapati Maharaj' of Puri, the temple administration and the Shankaracharya are involved. The project will bring joy to devotees," he said.

The chief minister will inaugurate the project, as a part of which 800 metres around the 12th-century Jagannath temple was re-developed at a cost of Rs 800 crore. Several amenities have been built for devotees as part of the showcase project.