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Dharmendra Pradhan's ‘Chhera Pahanra’ Paradox, Controversy Intensifies


17 July 2018

Ajesh Mallick


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Bhubaneswar: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s Chhera Pahanra and Swacchh Bharat analogy seems to have stirred the hornets’ nest. The statement made during Rath Yatra on a social networking site, has continued to evoke sharp reactions from politicians in Odisha, who have demanded Pradhan’s apology.

Gajapati Maharaj of Puri holds a reverent and distinct position in age-old Jagannath cult. Among the many rituals associated with Lord Jagannath and his ‘Chalanti Pratima’ (living incarnation), the Gajapati, Chhera Pahanra during Rath Yatra is devout, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Maheswar Mohanty said.

“The statement of the Union Minister, linking Chhera Pahanra and Gajapati Maharaj with Swacch Bharat campaign is derogatory. Any person who has little knowledge of Sri Jagannath’s culture and traditions will never make such comparisons,” Mohanty, the MLA from Puri said.

Pradhan quoted the Kanchi Abhiyaan anecdote in his commentary during Rath Yatra. In 15th century, Kanchi’s King had addressed Gajapati (Purusottam Deb) as a ‘Jhadoodaar’ (sweeper) and rejected Deb’s propsoal for an alliance with the princess.

“However, the Union Minister did not explain what happened later. The divine siblings - Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra, donned warriors attire and helped Gajapati avenge the insult,” Mohanty said.

Congress Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, as common people addressing the reverent Gajapati Maharaj as a sweeper is unacceptable. “The minister’s statement is unfortunate and shameful. He should apologise for this,” Bahinipati said.

Defending Pradhan, BJP’s Padampur MLA Pradip Purohit said that the Union Minister referred to Gajapati Maharaj as a ‘sevak’ (servitor) of the Lord. “The statement has been distorted and being used by the opposition parties to reap political benefits,” he added.

Also Read: District Administrations Put On Flood Alert: Odisha Disaster Management Minister

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Maheswar Mohanty, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister, Odisha

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Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Congress Chief Whip, Odisha

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Pradip Purohit, BJP MLA, Odisha