Puri: A controversy erupted over West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress head Mamata Banerjee’s Puri darshan plans when the Sebayit Committee of the Jagannath Temple protested her visit for her statements regarding beef consumption.
Banerjee had planned to visit MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay who was earlier arrested by the CBI for non-cooperation in the investigation into the Rose Valley scam. Along with this, the chief minister also wanted a darshan of the famous Puri Jagannath temple.
However the committee has refused to allow Mamata inside the temple saying that Mamata’s opinion regarding cow-meat consumption is against the principles of this temple where non-Hindus and beef eaters are not allowed. Such an act, of allowing the Bengal CM, would hurt the religious sentiments of innumerable devotees of Lord Jagannath, they said.
Head of the committee Somnath Kuntiya has, however, said that if Mamata retracts her statements regarding beef, she may be allowed to enter the temple.
Kuntiya has been taken into custody by the local police that are keen to avoid any untoward incident on Wednesday evening when the said visit is supposed to take place.
The TMC has claimed that this is political controversy manufactured by the rival BJP while the Odisha state BJP chief president Basanta Panda has refuted these allegations and stated that any Hindu is free to enter the Jagannath Temple.
In the past, Indira Gandhi was not allowed to enter the temple after she married a Parsi, Feroze Gandhi. Earlier, the temple committee did not permit even Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi into the sanctum sanctorum because he wished to enter the place accompanied by Dalits (whom he used to refer to as Harijans, a term later deemed offensive). Rabindranath Tagore was not let in because he was a Brahmo.
The oldest record of denial of entry to a famous personality is that of ascetic-poet Kabir. He was debarred because he was dressed like a Muslim.
In the recent past, Queen of Thailand Mahachakri Siridharan, a Buddhist, was denied entry into the holy place, too, in 2005. Swiss national Elizabeth Jigler was not permitted entry because of her Christian faith the next year.