BJP Makes Cautious Move

After watching for about a fortnight on the developments taking place in Puri following Odisha Government launched the eviction drive around Sri Jagannath Temple, opposition BJP Thursday made the first move.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and BJP National Spokesperson Sambit Patra for the first time appeared in Puri and met Govardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati.

Both the leaders, considered to be close confident of both the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, took a calculated move the did not openly oppose the BJD Government’s decision to evict all structures within 75 meters from the Maghanada Pacheri.

Mr.Pradhan, now considered as eye and ear of the Modi-Shah duo gave a very measured statement before media and said: “Modernization with traditional flavor is required in this age. However, the persons involved in bringing reforms in the temple and the town need to be very careful while dealing with religious matter.

The Union Minister did not directly oppose the state’s move not supported it. He also suggested that the State Government should take views of Puri Shankaracharya and Gajapati Maharaja Divya Singh Deb while undertaking reforms.
Shankaracharya had earlier expressed his displeasure over not being consulted by the persons at the helm. He did not appreciate the function of Justice B P Das Commission, which allegedly did not consult him before submitting its interim reports.

The Seer also openly criticized the eviction drive and blamed certain people for ignoring him.

This is not all, Mr.Patra, who unsuccessfully contested from Puri Lok Sabha seat last time, also met the Mahant of Bada Akhada Mutt Harinarayan Das.

Mr.Patra did not speak to the media and nobody knows on what issue he speaks with the Bada Akahada Matha Mahanta.

Though local BJP MLA has opposed the eviction drive, the visit of two senior leaders to Puri has raised many eye brows.

Though no senior leaders of Congress has so far reacted over the eviction drive, Jatani MLA Suresh Routray dubbed the state government’s demolition as an act of Kalapahad.

 "The State Government's eviction drive comes as the second blow to the people of Puri after cyclone Fani that ravaged the holy town. Demolition of historic edifice was a well-orchestrated conspiracy to ruin the culture and tradition of Puri," former Puri MP and Union Minister Braja Kishore Tripathy told reporters.

 BJP National Vice President Baijayant Panda said: "Before going for the eviction drive, the government should take view of the affected people. This has not happened in Puri."

 BJP Lawmaker Bishnu Charan Sethi criticized the demolition of ancient mutts. The government has "failed" to conserve the heritage of century old mutts, he said.

Congress lawmaker Suresh Routray, who visited Puri, termed the government action as "attack" on cultural heritage of Lord Jagannath.

 "How can the government evict the century old mutts which are linked with the rituals of Sri Jagannath Temple," Routray asked.

 Minister Law Pratap Jena, however, defended the Government's action and appealed all not to politicise the matter as eviction is being carried out for the safety and security of the temple.
BJD Vice President Debiprasad Mishra, however, rejected the opposition allegation and said that the State Government was committed for the development of the temple and the holy town

Meanwhile, the Puri District Administration on Thursday resumed the eviction drive in the area near the Sri Jagannath temple here.

The eviction drive which was halted on Tuesday, started on Thursday with demolition of some commercial establishments located within the premises of Emar Mutt (monastery), a major portion of which have been razed, an official said.

The eviction drive resumed after Puri District Collector Balwant Singh on Wednesday announced that the drive would continue as decided by the state government.

The Collector, however, said that the seat of presiding deities of each monastery would remain intact. The District Administration has rejected the request of the local people and mutts to stop eviction and demolition of ancient structures located within 75 meters from the boundary wall of the 12th century shrine.
The chiefs of different mutts in an open letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) have appealed to him to issue a stay order on eviction drive as the drive was being carried out "without the consent" of mutt authorities.
Claiming that they have not given any consent for demolition of ancient structures, the monks alleged that they are being forced by district administration to agree for demolition of buildings.
The Supreme Court appointed Amicus Curiae and Solicitor General will visit to Puri on Friday. Both are supposed to submit report in the Apex Court before hearing of a case seeking stop of eviction drive being carried out in the name of providing security to the temple.

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