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Mamata Banerjee in Odisha: Police detains Puri temple servitor for opposing West Bengal CM's visit

Puri: A servitor of the Jagannath Temple was detained by the police on Tuesday for allegedly threatening to oppose West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's visit to the 12th-century shrine in Puri on Wednesday.

Mamata Banerjee. Reuters

Mamata Banerjee. Reuters

The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief, however, is not likely to face any problem as the sevayats of the temple and the temple administration said she is welcome to visit the shrine,

Banerjee is on a three-day visit to Odisha from Tuesday as a state guest. She is scheduled to have a darshan of Lord Jagannath on Wednesday.

Somanath Khuntia, a sevayat of the temple, had reportedly claimed that the servitors were annoyed with Banerjee as she had allegedly supported the consumption of beef.

"We came to know from media reports that she supports eating beef. It is against our culture and traditions. She should not be allowed to enter the Jagannath Temple. We will oppose her visit to the shrine," he had reportedly said.

Khuntia was detained for questioning by the police, Puri Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi said.

He said adequate security arrangements were in place for Banerjee's visit to the coastal town and the Jagannath Temple.

"All sevayat communities of Shri Jagannath Temple welcome Mamata Banerjee to visit the shrine and seek the blessings of the Lord," chief administrator of Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), Suresh Mohapatra said.

There is no bar should the West Bengal chief minister decide to visit the shrine and all servitors and priests would be happy, he said.

Expressing similar views, Jagannath Daitapati, the chief daitapati (servitor) of Lord Jagannath's Chariot, said, "It will be a proud privilege for the people if Mamata Banerjee visits Shri Jagannath Temple. We welcome her visit."

There should be no politics over Banerjee's visit to the temple and there are no restrictions on her entry into the shrine, he added.

Other sevayats echoing him said that Shri Jagannath Temple was open to all Hindus and Banerjee was welcome to visit the shrine and seek the Lord's blessings.

Arya Kumar Gyanendra, the state convenor of TMC, claimed that Banerjee's Odisha visit was "purely personal" and had nothing to do with politics.

Sources in the Chief Minister's Office here, however, said Banerjee was likely to call on her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik during her visit.

Banerjee and Patnaik had met at the Parliament House in Delhi on 10 April.

The proposed meeting of the two non-BJP chief ministers of the neighbouring states assumes significance as both the ruling parties in West Bengal and Odisha have been entangled in the chit fund scam which is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Speculation is also rife that Banerjee and Patnaik may draw a specific strategy to counter the saffron surge in their respective states.

Updated Date: Apr 18, 2017 21:29 PM

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