BJP’s Sambit Patra says remark “Lord Jagannath is PM Modi’s bhakt” was ‘slip of tongue’, will observe fast as penance


Bhubaneswar: Bharatiya Janata Party’s Puri candidate Sambit Patra’s remark that Odisha’s most revered deity “Lord Jagannath is a devotee (bhakt) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi” triggered a huge political row, with top leaders such as Naveen Patnaik, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal hitting out the BJP. Later, Sambit Patra, however, described it as a “slip of the tongue”.

During an interaction with media after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Odisha’s Puri yesterday, Mr Patra suggested that Lord Jagannath, the revered deity of the ancient town, is a devotee of PM Modi.

The political fallout as a result of Mr Patra’s remarks has prompted the BJP leader to undertake a period of “upvaas” (fasting) in atonement.

“Today, a statement made by me had created a controversy. After PM Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Puri, I gave byte to many media channels and everywhere I said the same thing, that PM Narendra Modi is an ardent devotee of Mahaprabhu Jagannath… In the end, when another channel took my byte, it was extremely hot, crowded and noisy. Unknowingly, while giving the byte, I said the opposite, that Mahaprabhu is a devotee of PM Narendra Modi. This can never be true, and a person in his senses can never say such things that god is a devotee of a human. I have made this mistake unintentionally. I know some people must have been hurt but even god forgives mistakes made unintentionally… I need to seek forgiveness from Mahaprabhu Jagannath for this slip of the tongue and I have decided to do a ‘upvaas’,” Mr Patra said.

The Congress shared a video of Sambit Patra speaking in Odia and slammed his remark on a local TV news channel, demanding that Prime Minister Modi apologise for the comment.

While Sambit Patra apologised for the comment and claimed that “we all have a slip of the tongue sometimes”, the Opposition leaders latched on to the remark, denouncing it as an “insult” to Lord Jagannath.

The Odisha chief minister, in an X post, criticised Sambit Patra for hurting Odia ‘asmita’ (pride).

“Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha is the Lord of the Universe. Calling Mahaprabhu a ‘bhakt’ of another human being is an insult to the Lord… it is totally condemnable. This has hurt the sentiments and demeaned the faith of crores of Jagannatha bhaktas and Odias across the world.

“The Lord is the greatest symbol of Odia asmita. I strongly denounce the statement… and I appeal to the BJP to keep the Lord above any political discourse. By this, you have deeply hurt Odia asmita and this will be remembered and condemned by people of Odisha for a very long time,” Naveen Patnaik said.

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