Bhubaneswar: Senior BJP leader and former Law minister Biswabhusan Harichandan on Wednesday refuted the statement of his party colleague Bijay Mohapatra on Ratna Bhandar of Jagannath temple in Puri.
“Bijay Mohapatra is a political leader who had said that being the Law minister I was responsible for the gross mismanagement of the Jagannath temple during the tenure of the alliance government. He had also alleged that the BJP has resorted to a state-wide agitation on the Ratna Bhandar issue only to keep its image clean, which is grossly unfortunate. Mohapatra should have given such a statement after taking note of the series of reforms I had taken for the smooth management of the Jagannath temple,” he told media persons here.
Giving details of the reforms he had made for the Jagannath temple, Harichandan said he had brought in a series of amendments in the Jagannath Temple Act in 2004 including upgradation of temple managing committee to make the temple administration more efficient and effective.
Besides, to ensure more income of the temple, a hundi was set up at the office of the temple administration and another hundi was set up near Jayadev Bhawan in Bhubaneswar so that people could donate money to the Lords, he said.
Apart from this, construction of a 60-bedded Nilachal Yatri Niwas for the devotees of Odisha and other states, provision of insurance of Rs 2 lakh for the death of any devotee on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) from day of the Rath Yatra to the Niladri Bije, insurance of Rs 2 lakh for the death of any temple servitor inside the Jagannath temple premises, renovation of Anand Bazar inside the temple, installation of Hi-Max lights around the Meghnad Pachari (temple boundary wall), enactment of Uniform Land Policy were also undertaken, he informed.
On the issue relating to the missing Ratna Bhandar keys, Harichandan said it is the responsibility of the temple administration to ensure safe custody of the keys. If any such incident comes to the notice of the temple administration, it should inform the state government after which it is the lookout of the Law minister to take necessary action.
“Here, the state government made a blunder as it did not intervene in the matter after it came to know on April 4 that the keys were missing. Neither did the temple administration lodge a complaint with the police nor did the state government initiate a preliminary investigation,” he rued.
Talking about the statement of Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati that the BJP, which is now raising the Ratna Bhandar issue, had not taken any step to bring reforms in the temple administration when it was in power with the BJD for nine years, Harichandan said he does not want to make any comment on his statement. “But I would like to say that the Puri seer, before making his statement, should have gone through, in detail, the steps that I had taken for the reforms of the temple when I was the Law minister at that time,” he pointed out.