Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, July 4:
Odisha Excise and Cooperation Minister Damodar Rout has joined issue with Assam Governor JB Patnaik saying it would have been better if the former Odisha Chief Minister had suggested a way out of the impasse over Jagadguru Shankaracharya’s decision not to climb the chariots, as ordained by tradition, during the Rath Yatra this year.
“Janaki Babu was the Chief Minister of the state for 14 years. He also has vast knowledge of Jagannath culture. Instead of criticising the state government, it would have been better if he had come out with some practical solution to the problem,” Rout said in his reaction to JB Patnaik’s statement on the issue yesterday.
The minister said Patnaik’s comments smacked of politics.
The senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader also refuted JB’s charge that the government was ‘afraid’ of Daitapati servitors. He said the state government had nothing to do with the letter written to the Shankaracharya by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), which is at the root of the current imbroglio.
He said in accusing the government was ‘afraid’ of Daitapatis, the former Chief Minister was actually trying to please the Daitapatis.
Coming down hard on the state government for the way it had handled the issue, Patnaik had said the government had acted the way it did because it was afraid of displeasing the Daitapatis.
Daitapatis also took on JB Patnaik saying as a former Chief Minister, JB should know that the servitors had nothing to do with it.
“Did he act under the pressure of Daitapatis when he was Chief Minister?” asked Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra, head of the Daitapati Nijog.
“We had nothing to do with the Shankaracharya’s decision not to mount the chariots. It was an issue entirely between the temple administration and the Shankaracharya. We have the highest regard for the Shankaracharya and were ready to welcome him on the chariots. We acted as per the directive of the honourable High Court. We cannot be held responsible if he decided not to come to the chariots for some reason,” Dasmohapatra said.