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Day 1 of BJP govt in Odisha: All 4 Dwars of Jagannath Temple opened, State Secretariat allows journalists after 4 years

The devotees visiting the temple had to wait for several hours in queues most days because only one access Dwar was open. Ignoring all concerns and media, and political demands, the Shrimandir administration had kept the other three Dwars closed for years.

Odisha Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi along with Deputy Chief Ministers KV Singh Deo and Prabhati Parida, and the entire new cabinet on Thursday offered prayers at the 12th-century temple of Lord Jagannath temple in Puri. The four gates of the temple that were kept closed since the COVID-19 pandemic were thrown open today for devotees.

Majhi, who was sworn in as Odisha’s Chief Minister on June 12, in his first Cabinet meeting approved a proposal to re-open all four Dwars of Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri early on Thursday morning and set up a corpus fund for it. The first cabinet meeting of the new govt was held immediately after the oath-taking ceremony.

Puri MP Sambit Patra, Balasore MP Pratap Chandra Sarangi, and other ministers and leaders of the party were also present at the temple.

Odisha CM Mohan Charan Majhi said, “We had proposed to open all the four Dwars (gates) of Jagannath Temple in yesterday’s cabinet meeting. The proposal was passed and today at 6:30 am, I along with my MLAs and Puri MP (Sambit Patra) attended the ‘Mangala aarti’… For the development of the Jagannath Temple and for other works, we have proposed a fund in the cabinet. When we present the next state budget, we will allot a corpus fund of Rs 500 crore for the temple management.”

State minister Suryabanshi Suraj said, “During the elections, we had said that we would reopen all four gates… All four gates of the temple are going to be opened today. All members of the Council Ministers are present here. The CM is also present. A corpus fund worth Rs. 500 crore has also been announced for development projects. We took the oath yesterday and we are opening the gates today.”

Under the previous BJD government, the Puri Jagannath Temple administration continued to keep the four gates of the temple closed since the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, they cited the Parikrama project and despite repeated demands from the public and political parties to open all 4 Dwars, allowed the devotees to access the temple only through the Singha Dwar.

Though there were speculations that the continued shutting of 3 Dwars might be because of a conspiracy by some corrupt officials in connivance with some Sevayats of the Temple, there were no clear answers. Devotees, especially the elderly and children accompanying families had to wait in queues for several hours on festival days for a glimpse of Lord Jagannath. The closing of 3 Dwars also caused crowd management issues as devotees had only one Dwar to enter the Temple premises.

The devotees visiting the temple had to wait for several hours in queues most days because only one access Dwar was open. Ignoring all concerns and media, and political demands, the Shrimandir administration had kept the other three Dwars closed for years.

During the election campaign, the BJP made it an issue and promised that on the very next day of forming government in the state, all 4 Dwars of the Puri Jagannath temple will be opened for devotees.

Keeping the BJP’s word, CM Majhi announced last evening, barely hours after taking oath, that all 4 Dwars of the Jagannath Temple will be opened for devotees on Thurseday morning. The opening of the closed Dwars was the very first decision of the new BJP government in Odisha, signaling a positive message for the people of the state.

Allowing journalists inside the state secretariat after 4 years

The Dwars of the Puri Jagannath temple were not the only thing that was ‘closed’. For the last 4 years, media persons were banned from the Odisha State secretariat, raising serious questions about the BJD government’s transparency. Not a single journalist, be it from print or multimedia, was allowed to step inside the state secretariat.

The Naveen Patnaik government had cited ‘Covid precautions’ while enforcing the ban. But long after the pandemic was gone, the gates of the state secretariat remained closed for media.

Yesterday, immediately after taking oath, CM Majhi ordered the gates of the state secretariat open for journalists, signaling a major step towards transparency and accountability.

Journalists were seen smiling and hailing the decision of the Majhi government as they entered Lok Seva Bhavan, the Odisha secretariat building in Bhubaneswar.

Mohan Chandra Majhi takes oath as Odisha CM in the presence of PM Modi and former CM Naveen Patnaik

Mohan Charan Majhi took oath as the Chief Minister of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Odisha in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 12th June. Majhi is the 15th CM of the state.

Along with Majhi, two deputy Chief Ministers, Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo and Pravati Parida were also sworn in.

The oath-taking ceremony was held at Janata Maidan in Odisha’s Bhubaneshwar.

Odisha Governor Raghubar Das administered the oath to the first BJP Chief Minister of the state, along with the deputies.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Naveen Patnaik, who served as chief minister of Odisha for 24 years was also present on the stage.

The ceremony also witnessed the presence of several high-profile leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party including — Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Nitin Gadkari, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Vishnu Dev Sai, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were among the dignitaries who arrived in Bhubaneswar to witness the event. 

In a surprising election victory, BJP secured a comfortable majority in Odisha in the recently concluded elections. After a long 25-year rule, Naveen Patnaik’s BJD was finally toppled as the ruing party and the people chose BJP on the promises of development, industrialisation, and growth.

(With inputs from ANI)

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