New Delhi:

The BJP’s Sambit Patra landed in a row today over a comment that hugely offended Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. As Odisha voted for the Lok Sabha and a new assembly in the Fifth Phase of election, Mr Patra told reporters that the Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of Puri, “is Modi’s bhakt”. When the Chief Minister shot off an angry protest, Mr Patra issued a clarification, saying it was a “slip of tongue”.

“Lakhs of people have gathered here to see PM Modi. Jagannath is Modi’s bhakt and we are all PM Modi’s family. I cannot control my emotions and I think today is a momentous day for all Odias,” said Mr Patra, who is the candidate from Puri.

It drew an immediate condemnation from Naveen Patnaik, who is hoping for a sixth consecutive term in the state.

“Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha is the Lord of Universe. Calling Mahaprabhu a bhakt of another human being is an insult to the Lord. This has hurt the sentiments and demeaned the faith of crores of Jagannatha bhaktas and Odias across the world,” Mr Patnaik posted on social media.

“The Lord is the greatest Symbol of Odia Asmita. Calling Mahaprabhu a bhakt of another human being is totally condemnable. I strongly denounce the statement made by the BJP Puri Lok Sabha candidate 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,’ his post read.

Congress’s Supriya Shrinate also joined issue, posting, “Lord Jagannath is a devotee of Modi… What has happened to the BJP people? Such an insult to our beloved God? this arrogance will come to an end”.

Mr Patra issued a clarification.

“I gave number of bytes today to multiple media channels after the massive success of Shri Narendra Modiji’s Road Show in Puri today, everywhere I mentioned that Modi ji is an ardent “Bhakt” of Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu mistake during one of the bytes I pronounced just the opposite ..I know you too know and understand this ..Sir let’s not make an issue out of a nonexistent issue ..we all have “slip of tongue sometimes,” his post read.

But the wave of outrage continued.

A post by Kerala Congress read, “Sambit Patra says that Prabhu Jagannath is a Bhakth of Modi. @sambitswaraj, God sends no one away empty, except those who are full of themselves”.

“According to Sambit Patra – “Modi’s bhakt is Jagannath”.. It’s a direct attack on Odia Asmita…… We want Sambit to apologies with folded hands in front of National Media and Each and every citizen of Odisha.  It’s very derogatory… You should mind your language,” Odisha Congress posted on X.

On social media, many demanded a public apology from the BJP leader. 

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