Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Aug 5:
For the first time since controversy broke out after a television channel purportedly showed him in jeans and T-shirt staying in a posh Hyderabad hotel with a young woman for company yesterday, controversial self-styled spiritual guru Srimad Sarathi today admitted that he does wear pants and shirt when he goes outside the state to avoid public attention.
“What is wrong with wearing such attire? After all, even Swami Vivekananda too wore pants, coat and tie when he went outside, didn’t he?” asked Sarathi Baba when quizzed by his un-godman like attire today.
The self-styled spiritual guru said he dressed like a normal person after being teased by people for his saffron attire in the past.
He, however, flatly denied the assertion made by the channel that the pictures showing him in jeans and T–shirt were from Golconda Hotel in Hyderabad.
“I have never been to Golconda Hotel. The photographs they are showing are from Hotel Crown in Allahabad where I had gone during the Kumbh mela,” the Baba said asserting that he was in Odisha from July 2-5, during which the channel claimed he stayed in the Hyderabad hotel.
The so-called god man played every card he could conjure up, from the communal card to local pride, to defend himself and attack those who were ‘maligning’ him.
“It is only Hindus who malign their saints. A Muslim man never speaks against another Muslim nor does a Sikh ever malign a fellow Sikh,” he said.
Turning his attention to Kendrapra, his bastion and the place where he wields tremendous clout, the god man said; “Presently, Sarathi is Kendrapara’s pride. If you want to kill Sarathi, you kill Kendrapara’s pride.”
Turning the Odisha next, Sarathi Baba said; “In doing this, you are bringing disgrace to Odisha. While I am trying to bring name for Odisha and India, you are trying to malign Odisha. I felt very hurt because I am an Odia son.”
“News channels have been calling me as bhanda (trickster). What is bhanda? Nowhere is such language used in electronic media. The way they are calling me bhanda, they are inciting violence,” said the angry god man.
Responding to the charges levelled against him, the Baba quipped; “Nobody has filed a case against me; it’s all false and untrue. I have no fear. I don’t fear death. I don’t fear criticism either. I am being subjected to questioning since yesterday. I have said no comments,” said Srimad Sarathi to television crews inside his ashram in Kendrapara while his devotees jeered at the TV crews.
“I am not giving bytes. I have come to persuade you. Don’t cry, please listen to me in silence. Your Lord is absolutely alright,” he said waiving to his supporters in an obvious bid to show who calls the shots.
While policemen guarded the gates of the ashram, protesters raised slogans against the god man and burnt his effigy. Protesters were seen tearing the hoardings in front of the ashram in Kendrapara.