Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 24:
When it comes to doing – and saying – the outrageous, there are very few in Odisha who can come anywhere close to Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy.
From threatening Brajarajnagar MLA Radharani Panda to squeeze ‘tela’ (oil) out of her – and that too inside the hallowed precincts of the state Assembly – to playing cart driver during the return of the daru sagadi (cart carrying the logs for making of the idols of the three deities), the irrepressible Pipli MLA has amused and outraged people in equal measure. No wonder the hacks just love him.
It was no different on Thursday when scribes, finding that the minister was in a particularly expansive mood, egged him on for a ‘quote’ that would make their day. And the minister obliged gladly.
Maharathy had called reporters to his office yesterday presumably to speak about agriculture. But the journos soon found that agriculture was the last thing on the minister’s mind, which was occupied by the menace of bulls at the time.
The minister was expounding on his plans to make the Puri Bada Danda (Grand Road) a bull-free zone when a reporter mischievously asked him why bulls always created problems. Pat came the reply from the ebullient minister; “Because they have not gone to school.” A peal of laughter followed.
Despite his determination to free the Grand Road of bulls, however, the minister sounded quite sympathetic to the Puri bulls.
“Lord Jagannath is the Lord of the Universe. Puri is world-famous. So are its bulls. Famous all over the world. It’s just that they fight with each other once in a while on Bada Danda leading to chaos. But, they are sacred as per Hindu religion. So, we are keeping them in Balighai and taking proper care of them,” he added.
In an effort to extract some more juicy stuff from the minister, another enterprising reporter asked him about the bulls roaming in front of the Lingaraj Temple here.
“Umm..Lingaraj’s bull! No man, no. I am not going to touch Lingaraj’s bull. They have direct connection with Lord Lingaraj. Can do nothing there,” quipped the Minister evoking another round of laughter among the assembled journalists.