Odisha assembly witnessed uproarious scenes over two video clips attributing to a person making allegedly “blasphemous” comments on Sun Temple Konark.
While leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra raised the issue, the entire ruling BJD demanded that the person identified as Abhijit Iyer-Mitra be booked along with former MP Baijayant Panda.
Some BJD MLAs in the assembly dubbed Abhijit as a “right-wing activist” while others alleged he belongs to the RSS.
BJD veteran leader Ranendra Pratap Swain said that “Acchhe Din” has failed and the BJP was back to its game plan of communal polarisation. “They are sowing the seeds of communal poison,” he alleged.
Several BJD MLAs including Sanjay Das Burma, Samir Das, Byomakesh, and Amar Satpathy said that the comments on Konark were a direct assault to Odia culture.
Quoting from the video clip, the BJD members said Abhijit describes the art and sculpture of Konark Sun Temple as contrary to Hindu culture and reflects on the culture of another religion which tried to crush Hindus.
According to BJD leaders, Abhijit goes on to state in the video that Ayodhya’s Ram Temple will not have such “obscene” sculptures.
“We will not tolerate such statements,” charged the BJD while demanding Abhijit’s arrest. They also demanded that Panda be arrested for taking Abhijit to Konark, Puri and Chilka.
“There is enough evidence to prosecute the person,” said former law minister Narasingha Mishra of the Congress without naming either Iyer or Panda.
“If the video clip is true and if the allegation that a top politician of the state had accompanied him is correct then it is disastrous,” stated Mishra.
BJP leader KV Singh Deo countered saying that Iyer-Mitra does not belong to the BJP.
“Let us not do politics over the matter,” said Singh Deo while asserting that the RSS does not propagate such thoughts and it was not involved in the Ram temple issue.
The BJP leader said that the BJD was trying to divert attention from the Rs 800-crore cooperative scam by raising non-issues.
With regards to Baijayant Panda’s helicopter flying over Chilka Lake for which a case has been filed, Singh Deo wondered how many times CM Naveen Patnaik had flown over Chilka and why no case was filed.
Pradip Purohit of the BJP, too, echoed the same line.
It may be noted here that the Chilka Development Authority has filed a police complaint on a helicopter flying low and trying to land violating law on 15 September.
The police found out that the chopper was used by Baijayant Panda. Puri police reached the airport hanger in Bhubaneswar and sealed the IMFA hanger while seeking flight details, black box, etc., of the said chopper.
Baijayanta Panda had refuted the allegations of any violation of law and has pointed out at the discrepancies in the timing mentioned in the FIR on his flight over Chilka.
It is learnt that Panda and two friends, both journalists, from Delhi had taken the trip to Konark, Puri and Chilka.
Panda who has quit the BJD following disciplinary action is facing the heat of the ruling party turning against and targeting him.