Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, May 23:
Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy has again courted controversy after he rode the Daitapati’s Sagadi (servitor’s cart) on Wednesday escorting the Daru (neem log) for carving the new idol of Lord Jagannath at Pipili on its way to Puri.
In a departure from the established rituals, the local MLA and the ruling Biju Janata Dal’s (BJDs) minister was seen riding the cart temporarily unseating the president of Daitapati Nijog Ramkrushna Das Mohapatra who drives the cart, as per rituals.
The firebrand legislator reached the spot with his supporters while the holy cart was passing through the town famous for appliqué handicrafts.
Maharaty draped in yellow dhoti, white vest and a saffron headgear climbed onto the cart and drove it till some distance. Devotees, besides his followers, gathered in large number to have darshan of Lord Jagannath’s Daru.
However, the cart riding episode involving the lawmaker seems to have not gone down well with the servitors.
Senior servitor and Badagrahi (body servitor) of Goddess Subhadra Ramachandra Das Mohapatra has criticised Maharaty’s swaggering act. He expressed that this was improper for an MLA to ride the holy cart.
“Maharathy’s supporters were seen holding banner with photographs of their political master and Ramakrushna Mohapatra to welcome the Banajaga yatri team. I sniff a political motive in this,” Ramchandra Das Mohapatra alleged.
On the other hand Ramakrushna Das Mohapatra dismissed the allegations.
“The minister came as an ordinary devotee dressed in a farmer’s attire. I gave him the opportunity to sit on the cart as he expressed his willingness to climb atop the sagadi.
It may be recalled that two ruling party ministers and an MLA were in news a week ago for wrong reasons as they were offered VVIP treatment at Kharipadia for darshan of the Daru of Lord Jagannath at a restricted area where the choupata work was in progress.
Excise Minister Damodar Rout, School & Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra and Derabis MLA Debasish Nayak alighted from the car and were frisked away by the Daitapatis to the enclosure. While the police cordoned off the area, the Jagatsinghpur Collector waited outside the enclosed area to facilitate the darshan.