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Politicians make beeline for Puri to seek divine intervention

With elections round the corner, netas, big or small, are making a beeline to 13th century Lord Jagannath's temple in Puri.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Bhubaneswar
PUBLISHED ON APR 13, 2004 01:25 PM IST

In a bid to seek divine intervention to brighten their poll prospects, leaders cutting across party lines in Orissa, have been flocking to Puri to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath.

With elections round the corner, 'netas' big or small, are making a beeline to the 13th century shrine.

It was the ruling BJP-BJD which had launched their 'Vijay Abhijan' from the temple town on February 29 at 'Saradhabali', just outside the Gundicha temple, with chief minister Naveen Patnaik and BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan leading the show.

The Congress had also belated kickstarted its poll campaign from the holy city with PCC chief and former chief minister J B Patnaik, accompanied by AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh and party candidate from Puri Pinaki Mishra paying obeisance to Lord Jagannath.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani is also scheduled to wind up his second leg of 8,000 km-long Bharat Uday Yatra in the temple town on April 14.

A senior BJD leader said that over the years it has become the practice to seek the blessing of Lord Jagannath who symbolised the Oriya culture, before getting into the hurly- burly of electioneering.

"Is there anything wrong if politicians seek the lord's blessings?" he asked.

The communists were perhaps the only excception.

But CPI secretary D Raja and state secretary of CPI-M Janardan Pati were present in the joint rally in Puri on April 10 with the leaders of Congress and its other alliance partners like Orissa Gana Parishad and JMM.

The late Biju Patnaik, in whose name the BJD was floated after his demise in 1997, also used to launch election campaigns from outside the Sri Jagannath Temple.

From there, he would get into his station wagon---named 'kalinga rath' ---and go round the state campaigning for his party.

A BJP leader candidly admitted that the politicians were aware of the influence of Jagannath on the Oriya people.

In fact, the state Congress leaders including Patnaik started addressing the rally by invoking the blessing of Jagannath.

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