Naveen Patnaik’s Jagannath Temple Gambit Amid Ram Temple Build-Up


Naveen Patnaik's Jagannath Temple Gambit Amid Ram Temple Build-Up

The Odisha government has invested over Rs 4,000 crore for the project.

New Delhi:

In the heart of Odisha, a religious and political spectacle is unfolding, orchestrated with precision by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Amid the build-up for the grand opening of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Odisha has big plans for the unveiling of the Jagannath Heritage Corridor, a strategic move by the BJD to not only boost religious sentiments but also to outmanoeuvre the BJP in the state.

A Divine Campaign

The state government has invested over Rs 4,000 crore, according to TOI, in a monumental endeavour under the ‘Ama Odisha, Nabin Odisha’ scheme aimed at transforming Puri’s infrastructure. Central to this colossal project is the Shree Setu, a 2.8 km bypass. This bypass promises to reduce travel time to the Jagannath temple from the state capital Bhubaneswar by a significant hour.

The crown jewel of the initiative, however, is the Rs 1,943 crore heritage corridor around the 12th-century Jagannatha temple. This architectural marvel features a 75-meter heritage corridor, designed with a green buffer zone, a tree-lined outer path, and a public convenience area.

Image Politics

Away from Ayodhya, Odisha is prepping for a spectacle of its own – a fleet of 8,000 vehicles, according to news agency PTI, embellished with images of Lord Jagannath and Chief Minister Patnaik, traversing the length and breadth of the state.

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Photo Credit: ANI

The BJD, eying a sixth consecutive term, is leaving no stone unturned to secure its dominance in Odisha, with the BJP close on its heels. In the last elections, the BJD lost eight of the 21 Lok Sabha seats to the BJP, a setback that Mr Patnaik is determined to reverse.

Naveen Patnaik’s Critics

Many critics argue that the BJD’s religious outreach mirrors the BJP’s playbook, suggesting an abandonment of secular values.

Some even remarked that Mr Patnaik has taken a leaf out of PM Modi’s playbook after the Odisha Chief Minister urged people in the state to light diyas (lamp), blow conch shells, beat cymbals, recite devotional hymns to celebrate the heritage project in Puri.

Beyond the Corridor

The intricate project involves not just the corridor but a comprehensive redevelopment of the temple complex.

From the innovative Shree Setu to a dedicated shuttle lane and an AC tunnel for devotees’ comfort, the transformation aims to ease the increasing footfall and prevent stampede-like situations during festivals, especially the Rath Yatra.



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