Bhubaneswar, July 3 (IANS) The opposition Congress and BJP on Friday lashed out at the Odisha government over the “tardy” progress of work related to the upcoming Nabakalebar festival and demanded details of the money allocated for infrastructure projects.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal asked the opposition parties not to play politics over the religious festival.
Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan said the government had “completely failed” to upgrade the infrastructure ahead of the Nabakelabar festival in Puri on July 18.
He said even as the Nabakalebar rath yatra was just a few days away, the Naveen Patnaik government had failed to ensure basic amenities and other infrastructure for the smooth conduct of the festival.
The government expects about 50 lakh devotees during Nabakalebar, which is an ancient festival during which the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are replaced by a new set of idols.
Stating that the government had limited itself to only conducting review meetings, Harichandan said it had been extending its own deadlines for the completion of the Nabakalebar work.
“First, it said all infrastructure projects would be completed by March 31; then the time was extended to May 15. Realising that the work would not be completed by this time as well, the state government extended the deadline to June 30. Now, it has set a fresh deadline of July 10,” the PCC president remarked.
Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra also demanded that the government publish the details of the funds allocated for the infrastructure projects.
He also lashed out at Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his “silence” over the Brahma Parivartan fiasco and alleged that the ‘third floor’ (Chief Minister’s Office at the Secretariat) was directly involved in the mismanagement.
Mohapatra demanded the scrutiny of all call records of mobile phones of Daitapatis, who were inside the temple on the day of the Brahma Parivartan, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Suresh Mohapatra and CMO officials.
“Once the call records of Daitapatis, SJTA chief and CMO officials are scrutinised, everything will automatically come to light,” said Mohapatra.
The BJP leader said the state government was trying to make the Nabakalebar festival a “Naveen Yatra”.
He reiterated the party’s demand for the suspension of the SJTA chief, clarification from the chief minister and a judicial probe into the Brahma Parivartan mismanagement, and blamed Naveen Patnaik for the Nabakalebar fiasco.
Reacting to the allegations of the opposition parties, the ruling BJD said the state government would release a white paper on the expenditure incurred on the Nabakalebar festival at an opportune time.
“The infrastructure work related to the festival is going in the right direction and about 99 percent work has been completed. The government will release a white paper on the expenditure. The opposition parties should not indulge in politics over the festival,” said BJD spokesperson Pratap Dev.