BJP spokesperson and candidate from Puri Sambit Patra created a stir on Monday when he said Lord Jagannath is a “devotee of Modi”. “Lakhs of people have come to see Modi. Lord Jagannath is a devotee of Modi. We all are part of Modi’s family. With this amazing view (public gathering), I can’t control my emotions. I feel it is a special day for all Odias today,” Patra said while speaking to a television channel.

Later on, Patra issued a clarification on ‘X’.

“Instead of ‘Lord Sri Jagannath’s Bhakt Modi’, (I) mistakenly pronounced ‘Modi’s Bhakt Jagannath’. We all are devotees of Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath. It would be inappropriate to politicise this issue.” But, the damage was done.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “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 bhakts and Odias across the world. The Lord is the greatest symbol of Odia Asmita. Calling Mahaprabhu a bhakt of another human being is totally condemnable. I strongly denounce the statement made by the BJP Puri Lok Sabha candidate and appeal to the BJP to keep the Lord above any political discourse.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “I strongly condemn this statement of BJP. They have started thinking that they are above God. This is the height of arrogance. Calling God bhakt of Modi ji is an insult to God.”