PM Modi prays at Puri temple, raises issue of missing 'Ratna Bhandar' keys

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a slew of campaign rallies lined up in Odisha as the BJP ramps up its offensive against Naveen Patnaik's ruling BJD.
PM Modi prays at Puri temple, raises issue of missing 'Ratna Bhandar' keys
Jaano Junction

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayers at Odisha's famous Jagannath temple in Puri on Monday and attacked the ruling BJD government over the missing keys of the Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove). Ramping up his offensive against Naveen Patnaik's party, PM Modi said the 12th century temple was not safe under BJD rule.

Addressing a rally in Angul, PM Modi said, "Jagannath temple in Puri is not safe under BJD rule. 'Ratna Bhandar' keys have been missing for the last 6 years." Puri goes to polls along with state capital Bhubaneswar on May 25.

Lord Jagannath is the most revered deity in Odisha and the Ratna Bhandar of the Jagannath temple has deep resonance among the people of Odisha.

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PM Modi prays at Puri temple, raises issue of missing 'Ratna Bhandar' keys

The Ratna Bhandar houses the precious ornaments of the deities - Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra - given by devotees and erstwhile kings over centuries. It was last opened on July 14, 1985.

In 2018, the Orissa High Court directed the government to open the chamber for physical inspection. However, the keys to the chamber could not be found, leading to a state-wide outrage.

"Prayed to Mahaprabhu Jagannath in Puri. May His blessings always remain upon us and guide us to new heights of progress," PM Modi tweeted.

He then held a huge two kilometre roadshow from Marchikote Chowk to the Medical Square in Puri and was accompanied by BJP's Puri Lok Sabha candidate Sambit Patra and state president Manmohan Samal.

This is PM Modi's second visit to Odisha in the last 10 days and comes as the BJP and the BJD are locked in one of the fiercest battles in recent times. The slugfest between the parties only sharpened after the BJP and the BJD failed to secure a pre-poll alliance in Odisha.

In fact, the BJP and BJD had ruled Odisha in an alliance for nine years before ending their partnership in 2009.

PM Modi, who has avoided criticising the BJD government previously, has directly attacked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on several occasions in his rallies.

In his May 11 rally, PM Modi also raked up the "safety" of the Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove) of the Jagannath temple.

He has also asserted that "Odia asmita (Odia pride)" and Odia language were in danger. It was perceived as a direct attack on Naveen Patnaik, who has been repeatedly accused by the opposition of not only failing to learn Odia but also being unaware of the state's culture.

Source: India Today

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