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Sambit Patra’s ‘Jagannath Is Modi’s Bhakt’ Remark Sparks Political Row

Sambit Patra’s ‘Jagannath Is Modi’s Bhakt’ Remark Sparks Political Row

BJP leader and Puri Lok Sabha candidate Sambit Patra has faced backlash after a slip of the tongue during an interview with a private Odia channel. In the viral clip, Patra can be heard saying that Lord Jagannath is a devotee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The incident has sparked significant outrage, with many calling for Patra’s apology for his controversial comment. Later, Sambit Patra clarified his remarks, emphasizing that it was a slip of the tongue.

Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik responded strongly, stating, “Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha is the Lord of the Universe. Referring to Him as a devotee of another human being is an insult to the Lord.” Patnaik emphasized that the remark has hurt the sentiments of countless Jagannath devotees.

“By this, you have deeply hurt Odia Asmita, and this will be remembered and condemned by the people of Odisha for a very long time,” he said. Calling Lord Jagannath the most significant symbol of Odia asmita (pride), Patnaik denounced Patra’s statement.

Replying to Naveen Patnaik’s post on X, Sambit Patra wrote, “Naveen Ji Namaskar! I gave a number of bytes today to multiple media channels after the massive success of Shri Narendra Modiji’s Road Show in Puri. Today, everywhere I mentioned that Modi ji is an ardent “Bhakt” of Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu. By mistake, I pronounced just the opposite during one of the bytes. I know you, too, know and understand this.”

“Sir, let’s not make an issue out of a nonexistent issue. We all have a slip of the tongue sometimes. Thanks and Pranam,” he added. In a video on X, Patra said he would fast for three days to repent for his mistake. He said, “Today, I am deeply troubled by the mistake I have made regarding Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath Ji,” a rough translation of Patra’s post in Hindi read.” I bow down at the feet of Mahaprabhu Sri Jagannath Ji and beg for forgiveness. I will be fasting for the next three days to correct my mistake and repent,”

Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal also criticized Patra, calling his remark an “insult to God. “I strongly condemn the BJP’s statement. They have started thinking that they are above God. This is the height of arrogance. Calling God a bhakt of Modi ji is an insult to God,” he said.

The Congress also hit out at the BJP over Patra’s remark. “BJP leader Sambit Patra says that Mahaprabhu Lord Shri Jagannath is a devotee of Narendra Modi. This is a grave insult to Mahaprabhu. This statement has hurt the faith of crores of devotees. Sambit Patra, immersed in Modi Bhakti, should not have committed this sin. Narendra Modi should apologize for this disgusting statement,” a post on the party’s X handle read.

Mallikarjun Kharge: The Congress chief said it reinforces “our charge that a BJP, drunk with power, will not even spare our Gods, let alone India’s people”. “The comments made by BJP’s Puri candidate insult Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha, revered by crores of people. We condemn it in the strongest possible words… On June 4th, this arrogance shall be destroyed by ‘Will of the People’,” Mallikarjun Kharge wrote on X.

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Rahul Gandhi: The senior Congress leader hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the comment. “When the Prime Minister starts considering himself as an emperor and the courtiers start considering him as God, then it is clear that the downfall of the Lanka of sin is near. Who gave a handful of BJP people the right to hurt the sentiments of crores of people? This ego is becoming the cause of their destruction,” Rahul Gandhi posted in Hindi on X.

Ajoy Kumar: The AICC in charge of Odisha also condemned the statement. “The country and Odisha will not tolerate this insult of Lord Jagannath!” Ajoy Kumar posted on the micro-blogging site. “Will the media ask any question to Sambit Patra? Where are those journalists with the 7 p.m. agenda? Where have those Hindutva organizations gone?” he added.

This is not the first time Sambit Patra’s remarks have caused controversy. In 2017, in a news channel show, he called PM Modi the father of the nation, for which The Congress demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologize to the country for the “insult” to Mahatma Gandhi and have the courage to expel Patra.
Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu, is a popular deity in Odisha, and his temple in Puri is a pilgrimage site.

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