Political slugfest breaks out between BJD, BJP

A political slugfest broke out between Biju Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party over beautification and infrastructure projects being undertaken around Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar and Shri Jagannath Temple, Puri.

Aparajita Sarangi, Member of Parliament from Bhubaneswar and BJP national spokesperson, on Monday hit out at the Naveen Patnaik Government alleging that no prior permission had been sought from National Monument Authority (NMA) before taking up the projects around Lingaraj and Jagannath temples.

Addressing a press conference here, Ms. Sarangi said the State government even did not take the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) into confidence and tinkered with ancient monuments around two major temples.

“The government has something to hide in the plan. Development plans were not disclosed before former Director General of ASI who asked for it,” she pointed out.

“The NMA had not blocked any legitimate development projects around two temples and many people had duly taken permission for their individual constructions. Who stopped the State government from seeking permissions from NMA,” asked Ms Sarangi.

“Two architectural firms which were based in Noida and Bengaluru were awarded contract for providing multi-hundred crore plans. However, these two firms do not have any experience in dealing with such huge projects. The government has not disclosed as to how these two firms were selected,” the BJP leader said.

Withdrawal sought

Anticipating that draft heritage bylaws, if finalized, for Brahmeshwar Temple and Ananta Basudeva Temple in Bhubaneswar would restrict constructions around Lingaraj Temple, the BJD government has been demanding complete withdrawal of the draft notifications.

Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra on Monday wrote a letter to Union Culture Secretary Raghavendra Singh requesting him to withdraw the draft notifications stating that, “there have been frequent agitations regarding the non-withdrawal of these draft notifications and there is serious apprehension that this will lead to widespread agitation and disturb the day to day religious rituals in the temple.”

Ms. Sarangi charged that the State government was exhibiting utter ignorance on the issue. “If the State government has any objections to draft bylaws, it can submit its suggestions and objections to draft bylaws and legally stop them from being finalized. The government has been misleading people through false propaganda,” she said.

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