After "Slip Of Tongue", BJP Leader Sambit Patra's "Upvaas" Vow As Atonement

The political fallout as a result of Sambit Patra's remarks has prompted the BJP leader to undertake a period of "upvaas" (fasting) in atonement.

After 'Slip Of Tongue', BJP Leader Sambit Patra's 'Upvaas' Vow As Atonement

Amid the escalating backlash, Mr Patra took to social media to clarify his statement.

New Delhi:

BJP leader Sambit Patra finds himself in the eye of a political storm after calling Lord Jagannath a devotee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in what he claims was a "slip of tongue" while talking to the media after the PM's roadshow in Odisha's Puri yesterday. The comment on Lord Jagannath, a revered deity in the ancient town, has ignited a fierce backlash from the BJP's political rivals, especially Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

Sambit Patra has now announced a period of "upvaas" (fasting) to atone for the flub.

In his clarification, he refers to the sweltering heat and noise following PM Modi's roadshow. Mr Patra said he had aimed to highlight PM Modi's devotion to Lord Jagannath but mistakenly stated, "Jagannath is Modi's bhakt." The comment, captured on camera, immediately provoked outrage from multiple quarters.

READ | Sambit Patra's "Slip Of Tongue" That Found A New 'Bhakt' For PM Modi

"Today, a statement made by me had created a controversy. After PM Narendra Modi's roadshow in Puri, I gave byte to many media channels and everywhere I said the same thing, that PM Narendra Modi is an ardent devotee of Mahaprabhu Jagannath... In the end, when another channel took my byte, it was extremely hot, crowded and noisy. Unknowingly, while giving the byte, I said the opposite, that Mahaprabhu is a devotee of PM Narendra Modi. This can never be true, and a person in his senses can never say such things that god is a devotee of a human. I have made this mistake unintentionally. I know some people must have been hurt but even god forgives mistakes made unintentionally... I need to seek forgiveness from Mahaprabhu Jagannath for this slip of the tongue and I have decided to do a 'upvaas'," Mr Patra said.

The reaction from Naveen Patnaik was swift and sharp. The Odisha Chief Minister condemned Mr Patra's statement in a scathing social media post, saying that such remarks insult the sanctity of 'Mahaprabhu' Jagannath and hurt the sentiments of millions of devotees. He urged the BJP to refrain from dragging the deity into political discourse, a sentiment echoed by other opposition leaders.

"Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha is the Lord of the Universe. Calling Mahaprabhu a bhakt of another human being is an insult to the Lord. This has hurt the sentiments and demeaned the faith of crores of Jagannatha bhaktas and Odias across the world," Mr Patnaik wrote.

The controversy quickly gained momentum, with leaders from various parties joining the chorus of condemnation. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised the BJP's perceived arrogance, suggesting that such statements indicate a dangerous level of self-aggrandisement within the party. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal echoed these sentiments, calling Mr Patra's statement a height of arrogance and an "insult to God".

The Congress, BJD, and AAP capitalised on the uproar, with the Congress demanding an apology from Prime Minister Modi himself. "Sambit Patra, who is immersed in Modi Bhakti, should not have committed this sin. Narendra Modi should apologise for this disgusting statement," stated the Congress's official communication.

Amid the escalating backlash, Mr Patra took to social media to clarify his statement. He explained that it was an inadvertent slip of the tongue, a mistake made under the strain of the moment. "I gave a number of bytes today to multiple media mistake during one of the bytes I pronounced just the opposite. I know you too know and understand this. Sir, let's not make an issue out of a nonexistent issue. We all have a slip of the tongue sometimes," Mr Patra wrote directly to Chief Minister Patnaik, seeking to defuse the situation.

Despite Mr Patra's apology, opposition parties remained unyielding. The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) lodged a formal complaint, alleging that Mr Patra's statement was a deliberate attempt to insult religious sentiments. They accused him of violating the model code of conduct and called for strict action.

This controversy unfolds as Odisha heads into a crucial phase of the elections, with Patra's gaffe potentially influencing voter sentiment. The BJP, which is striving to make significant inroads in the state, now faces the challenge of mitigating the fallout from this incident.