‘Will observe fast as penance’: BJP’s Sambit Patra apologises for calling Lord Jagannath devotee of PM Modi

  • BJP Sambit Patra said he was apologetic and he would offer penance in the name of Lord Jagannath as an apology

Livemint
Updated21 May 2024
BJP leader Sambit Patra
BJP leader Sambit Patra(PTI)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s Puri Lok Sabha seat candidate Sambit Patra has been embroiled in a controversy after he told a news channel in Odisha that "Lord Jagannath is a devotee (bhakt) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi." His statement has sparked a political row, Patra later said it was a “slip” of the tongue.

The BJP leader said he was apologetic and he would offer penance in the name of Lord Jagannath as an apology.

Patra told ANI news agency," Prime Minister Modi is an ardent devotee of Maha Prabhu Jagannath Ji. Even as the Chief Minister of Ahmedabad and even before that, PM Modi used to regularly visit and offer prayers at Lord Jagannath temple there in Ahmedabad". He added, "Amid a lot of people, hot weather, and noise, I unknowingly said just the opposite of what I had been saying all along. I mistakenly said that Lord Jagannath is a devotee of PM Modi."

‘Lord Jagannath Bhakt of PM Modi’: BJP's Sambit Patra sparks major controversy

"This is not possible; no person in his right mind can say that God is a devotee of any human being. The mistake happened unknowingly while giving out bytes to a channel. I agree that the sentiments of some people have been hurt due to my statement, but even the lord forgives a person for committing a mistake unknowingly," said Patra.

He further clarified, "It was never my intention to commit this mistake, but still because Mahaprabhu Jagannath is the Lord of the Universe and I am an ardent devotee just like the hundreds and thousands of Odias, I feel I should convey my apology and offer penance to the Lord for a 'slip of the tongue' that occurred unknowingly."

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"Hence, I have decided to observe fasting as an apology," said Patra.

Sambit Patra's controversial statement:

The senior BJP leader told media, “Lakhs of people have gathered to see Modi. Lord Jagannath is a devotee (bhakt) of Modi, and we are Modi's family. This is an unusual sight, and I am not able to control my emotions. I think it is a historic day for all Odias”.

He made the remark while speaking with the media during the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha election and the second phase of the Odisha Assembly election.

Patra's accidental remark drew sharp criticism from Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who called it an 'insult' to the Lord.

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"Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha is the Lord of the Universe. Calling Mahaprabhu a bhakt of another human being is an insult to the Lord. This has hurt the sentiments and demeaned the faith of crores of Jagannatha bhaktas and Odias across the world," Patnaik wrote in a post on the microblogging site X.

The Lord is the greatest symbol of Odia Asmita, Patnaik added.

Congress also attacked Patra for his remark relating to Lord Jagannath and sought an apology.

Prime Minister Modi held a roadshow in the holy city of Puri on Monday along with BJP candidate Sambit Patra.

Patra had lost the election in 2019 to Pinaki Mishra of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). This time he faces Congress' Jaya Narayan Patnayak and BJD's Arup Patnaik.

The Lok Sabha elections are being held across seven phases, from April 19 to June 1. The counting is scheduled for June 4. 

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