Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 21:
The Opposition today came down heavily on the Odisha government over the decision of the Shree Jagannath Temple Management Committee to bar devotees from having the Nabajoubana Darshan of the Lords.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour in the State Assembly, BJP members alleged that the decision was against the tradition and would hurt the religious sentiments of the devotees. Terming the decision as unrealistic, they demanded a ruling on it from the Speaker.
The Opposition Congress members also termed the decision of the Committee as ‘Jagannath drohi’ (act of conspiracy against Lord Jagannath).
Targeting the state government during the discussion on an adjournment motion moved by it on the issue of insecurity of tourists at different tourist places in the state, Congress member Tara Prasad Bahinipati alleged that there had been a gradual fall in the number of tourists in the state as most tourist destinations are unsafe for them.
In his reply, Tourism minister Ashok Panda said the state government had directed all district collectors and SPs to take steps on a priority basis to ensure safety and security of the tourists. To prevent mishaps during bathing in the sea, the government had employed 264 persons from the Nolia (local fishermen) community in Puri and 35 persons in Gopalpur as life guards.
Besides, an arrangement of Rs 1 crore has been made for Tourist Emergency Fund, he added.
“This government’s decision not to allow devotees from having the Nabajoubana darshan of Lord Jagannath is against the tradition of thousands of years. Lord Jagannath is not going to pardon this government for it,” Bahinipati told reporters outside the House.
However, the BJD said that the government has nothing to do with the temple management committee’s decision to bar devotees from having the Nabajoubana Darshan.
“My opinion is same with that of the devotees in the matter of Nabajoubana Darshan. But the government cannot interfere in the decision of the temple management committee, which is an autonomous body. Above all, the Gajapati, the first servitor of Lord Jagannath and considered a link between the devotee and the Lord, is the president of the temple managing committee, I feel he would have certainly taken a decision taking into consideration different aspects. The state government can only provide police forces but certainly cannot take any decisions with regards to darshan and rituals of the temple”, said Amar Prasad Satpathy, BJD spokesperson and Barchana MLA.