Controversy Surrounding Sri Jagannath Temple Heritage Corridor Inauguration Intensifies Amid Allegations of Political Gain


Bhubaneswar 10/01/24 (TBN)
The inauguration of the Sri Jagannath Temple Heritage Corridor has sparked a heated debate, mired in accusations and political controversy. Opponents have leveled sharp criticisms against the ruling BJD (Biju Janata Dal) government, alleging a calculated move to leverage the temple’s inauguration for electoral advantage in the upcoming elections.

The heritage corridor, a project aimed at preserving the sanctity and enhancing the surroundings of the revered Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha, was anticipated as a moment of cultural pride. However, as the inauguration date approached ( 17 Jan 2024), dissenting voices grew louder, accusing the Biju Janata Dal of orchestrating the event to gain political mileage.

Members of the opposition parties have vehemently criticized the timing of the inauguration, citing it as a strategic ploy by the BJD to sway public sentiment in their favor ahead of the impending elections. ‘Such a momentous occasion, centered around the revered temple, should remain devoid of political posturing or motives’ says Anil Biswal, spokesman of BJP. “Why do the govt and the SriMandir Parichalana Committee so hurry to do the inauguration on 17 January When the govt is not listening to the long standing demand of opening of the Ratna Bhandar, the four entrance doors of the temple and before the completion of the project”, asks Bharatiya janata party.

In response, the BJD government has defended the initiative, asserting its commitment to preserving the cultural heritage of the temple and improving the overall experience for devotees and tourists. They maintain that the inauguration was a step towards fulfilling their long-standing promise to enhance the temple precincts and uphold the spiritual significance of the site. The main objective is to spread the Sri Jagannath Culture, we have no political interest , says Padmanabh Behera, minister and senior BJD leader.

Despite reassurances from the government, the controversy continues to escalate, with opposition parties intensifying their criticism and calling for a probe into the alleged exploitation of a religious milestone for political gains. The state govt has sanctioned additional rs 204 crores for the awareness and publicity in GramPanchayat and urban areas. With this the total budget of Sri Mandir Heritage Corridor budget has gone up to Rs 4204 crores.

The clash between the government’s initiative to enhance the temple’s heritage and the opposition’s accusations of political opportunism has sparked a fierce debate across the state. As the controversy simmers, the focus remains on the significance of preserving cultural heritage while keeping political agendas at bay.

The inauguration of the Sri Jagannath Temple Heritage Corridor, which was anticipated to be a unifying moment, has instead become a battleground for political rhetoric and accusations, leaving the true celebration of cultural preservation shrouded in controversy and division.

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