The BJP stepped up its attack on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the Puri Jagannath Temple valuables issue and pointed out that he was accountable for the safety of the valuables donated by devotees since he heads the Foundation Fund Committee as enshrined in the temple manual.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, BJP state spokesperson Mr Pitambar Acharya said over the last two weeks or more we have been repeatedly questioning the Chief Minister’s stoic silence over such a grave sensitive and sentimental issue.

Ever since 3 April, when the keys to the inner room of the Ratna Bhandar ( treasure house) of Puri Jagannath Temple was reported missing, the entire state has been agitating the issue. Yet the CM has remained mum.

The judicial commission ordered by the government is no answer to the several questions that are being raised, he said, adding that criminal case ought to have registered.

It is shocking that even after the BJP had lodged a police complaint at Puri and followed it up by meeting the DGP Dr R P Sharma, the police had not registered a case.

Strangely on 13 June when the BJP did so, the “missing keys” were discovered in the “record room” at Puri and that too in an envelope marked as “duplicate keys”, he pointed out.

It is all very fishy, said Acharya while insisting that under provisions of the law including the prevention of corruption act, case should be registered against a host of officers like the DM of Puri, Managing committee members and the Chief Minister.

Reading out from provisions of the temple manual, Acharya said the CM heads the Foundation Fund Committee and he needs to answer how many times over the last 18 years had the committee met.

The rules clearly state on how and where the valuables to the Lord is to be kept. But nowhere is it said that the valuables be kept in a bank locker of the treasury, alleged Acharya.

Reacting to the charges of the BJP, the ruling BJD spokesperson P K Deb told media persons that it was yet another futile attempt of the BJP to somehow politicize the issue.

They are trying to play politics over a emotive issue concerning the Puri Jagannath Temple, he said while adding that the government has ordered a judicial probe.

The BJP is free to move the courts if it so desires, he remarked.