Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 5:
Stung by allegations that some of its leading lights provided patronage to controversial godman Sarathi Baba, Odisha’s ruling party sought to take a belligerent position on the issue saying the man should be given ‘the severest of punishments’, but with the inevitable rider ‘if found guilty’.
“The matter needs a probe and if the allegations are found to be true during the probe, there can be nothing worse. These fake god men should be awarded suitable punishment. Nothing can be worse than this. We should also caution public not to get trapped by the emotional blackmailing of these fraudsters. If this is true, it is the worst that can happen. Surely it needs to be probed. If found guilty, he should be awarded with the severest punishment,” said Dr Raseswari Panigrahi, spokesperson for BJD reacting to questions of reporters on the issue.
“In no case should such things be tolerated. The matter needs to be probed. There should be strong action against him if he is guilty,” said Pratap Jena another spokesman of the BJD.
“Since lakhs of people are his devotees, it will hurt their feelings if the incident is not true. We should not hurt the feelings of such people. If such incident has really taken place, we should see to it that it is not repeated and such fake god men do not surface in the society and alert mechanism should be implemented,” said Damodar Rout Minister Excise and Revenue.
Several BJD leaders, including MPs, MLAs and even ministers regularly visit the godman’s ashram to pay their obeisance to him, the prime reason local police has never acted on complaints against Sarathi Baba, those in the know say.
On its part, the Congress called for a probe into the allegations agains the Baba by an external agency.
“The matter should be handed over to an outside agency for probe so that everything can come out clear. It can be CBI or any other agency which can be entrusted with the probe,” said Taraprasad Bahinipati, Opposition Chief Whip in the Assembly and Congress MLA from Jeypore.
While the BJP is yet to come out with an official reaction on the issue, the president of the party’s district unit has dubbed it a ‘conspiracy’ to defame Hinduism, which appears to echo the line taken by the god man himself.