Congress Seeks Odisha Chief Minister's Apology On YouTuber's Temple Video

The row over social media influencer and Curly Tales founder Kamiya Jani's entry into Shree Jagannath Temple intensified on Saturday with the opposition Congress joining the bandwagon and a local cultural outfit staging protest here demanding action

Congress Seeks Odisha Chief Minister's Apology On YouTuber's Temple Video

The row over social media influencer and Curly Tales founder Kamiya Jani's entry into Shree Jagannath Temple intensified on Saturday with the opposition Congress joining the bandwagon and a local cultural outfit staging protest here demanding action against people who hurt religious sentiments of devotees.

The issue has been on the boil for three days now after the opposition BJP made Jani's entry into the 12th century shrine a huge controversy and called her a "promoter of beef eating".

The issue took a political turn when the saffron party accused bureaucrat-turned-BJD politician VK Pandian of facilitating the woman's entry into the temple and allowing her to make a film on the shrine.

The ruling BJD on its part defended Pandian and Jani. BJD MP Manas Mangaraj on Friday asked how Jani's work on Shree Jagannath temple became wrong when she was appreciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for her videos on Ayodhya temple, Mahakal temple and Char Dham.

Taking to X, Union Minister Giriraj Singh on Friday criticised the "total disregard" for the sanctity of the 12th-century shrine. "By facilitating entry of a beef promoter into the revered shrine, VK Pandian has shown utmost disregard to religion, history and spirituality," Singh wrote while demanding immediate and serious action against those responsible.

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was present in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, issued a calculated statement saying, "Lord Jagannath is the centre of faith for all Odias and Sanatanis. Therefore, nothing should be done to hurt the sentiments of people, knowingly or unknowingly. No one should play with Odias' unwavering love, devotion and reverence for the Lord." He refrained from making any direct reference to Jani.

Pradhan's statement was immediately responded by BJD Rajya Sabha MP Manas Mangaraj who in a X post said, “@dpradhanbjp Brother, you have said the right thing belatedly. Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath is the soul center of spirituality of the devotees living in Odisha and outside Odisha. Well, you have seen the efforts made by some leaders of your party to defame Odisha and the shrine for the last two-three days".

"The woman social media influencer was earlier employed by the central government to promote the Hindu temple heritage and culture of the country. However, when she made a video on Jagannath Heritage corridor project, immediately your followers tried to defame her through fake news and fake videos. If Kamiya Jani is right to promote the Ram Temple, then what is the problem in promoting the Jagannath Parikrama project? I hope you will take action against your state BJP leader who has played with people's emotions through fake news," Mangaraj said.

Meanwhile, the Congress also joined the bandwagon in the video row. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Sarat Pattnayak and party's campaign committee chairperson Bijay Patnaik sought to know who asked Pandian to take Jani inside the shrine.

"Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should apologise to the people of Odisha if he had issued instructions in this regard," the Congress leaders said.

Noting that the incident has hurt the sentiments of Lord Jagannath devotees across the country, the PCC chief said the chief minister must make it clear whether the visit was undertaken at his instruction. Pattnayak said Congress will resort to extreme steps if the CM fails to do so.

After the issue escalated, Jani in a social media post on Thursday had defended her Jagannath Temple visit. "As an Indian, my mission is to take Indian culture and heritage to the world. I have been visiting all the Jyotirlingas and char dhams of India and what a privilege it's been. Woke up to this strange article in the newspaper questioning my visit to Jagannath temple. Not that anyone has reached out to me but just here to clarify that I don't and have never eaten Beef. Jai Jagannath." This apart, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) also issued a statement saying that no video camera was allowed inside the temple as allegeged. The SJTA will take action if there is any evidence proving use of camera inside the temple.

Meanwhile, activists of Shree Jagannath Sanskruiti Surakshya Abijan staged a protest on Mahatma Gandhi Marg here demanding action against the people responsible for hurting sentiments of crores of devotees.

Jani's video highlighted Jagannath culture and also featured Pandian speaking on the importance of ‘Mahaprasad', the ongoing heritage corridor project and other aspects linked to temple development.

During his visit to Koraput, Pandian refused to comment on the issue and avoided questions by saying "Jai Jagannath."