Special House panel to look into Rath Yatra issue

Amid controversy over the Odisha government banning the climbing of chariots during the Rath Yatra festival in Puri, the state Assembly has formed a special committee to look into whether the decision should be reviewed.

The state government had taken the decision to impose a ban on devotees climbing chariots and touching the deity for three days in the annual 13-day festival, drawing criticism from the Shankaracharya of Puri as well as the BJP’s Odisha unit.

After members cutting across party lines raised the issue in the House, Speaker Niranjan Pujari on Wednesday evening chaired a high-level meeting, which was conducted in the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

It was decided that a special panel would be formed, headed by former minister and senior BJD legislator Maheswar Mohanty. The panel would also comprise Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra and BJP legislature party leader K V Singhdeo. Mohanty, who is also a former speaker of the state Assembly, and other panel members are to hold discussions with all stakeholders before submitting a report to the government.

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