BJP’s Sambit Patra apologizes for controversial statement on Lord Jagannath


PTI, May 21, 2024, 12:17 PM IST

Embroiled in a controversy over his ”slip of the tongue” on Lord Jagannath, BJP leader and party’s Puri Lok Sabha candidate Sambit Patra apologised and announced to undertake a penance by observing fast for three days from Tuesday after being criticized from different quarters. Patra while giving bytes to television channels on Monday, had said that the state’s most revered deity ”Lord Jagannath is a devote of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Patra”, however, later clarified that it was a slip of the tongue and he wanted to mean that the PM was an ardent ‘bhakt’ (devotee) of Lord Jagannath and not the other. Taking to X, Patra said: ”……For this mistake, I apologize at the feet of Lord Sri Jagannath. I will fast for the next three days to atone for this mistake.” Patra also said that on the occasion of Modi’s roadshow in Puri on Monday. He had conversations with many media. While talking to media, instead of saying ‘Maha Prabhu Sri Jagannath’s Bhakti Modi’, he mistakenly pronounced ‘Modi’s Bhakti Jagannath’.

The issue was aggravated when Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik strongly condemned Patra’s statement and appealed to the BJP to keep Lord Jagannath above the political discourse. 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,” Patnaik said.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also condemned Patra’s statement. In a post on X, he said: ”The comments made by BJP’s Puri candidate is an insult to Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha revered by crores of people. We condemn it in the strongest possible words. It reinforces our charge that a BJP, drunk with power, will not even spare our Gods, let alone India’s people. On June 4th, this arrogance shall be destroyed by the will of the People.” 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.

Meanwhile, Congress candidate from Puri Lok Sabha seat Jayanarayan Patnaik also lodged a complaint against Patra with the Town police station in Puri. West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress said the sentiments of millions of people across the country have been hurt by the ”blasphemous” statement of Patra. ”People of Odisha and Bengal will teach him and his party BJP a lesson for such a blasphemous remark,” West Bengal minister and senior party leader Chandrima Bhattacharya, in a video message in Bengali said.

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