Remember when Amitabh Bachchan ended up at the temple to pray for Nirupa Roy’s critical condition in the classic movie Deewar? It was a clear lesson to almost every Amitabh Bachchan fan, and something that every Bollywood movie-goer somewhat subconsciously concurred to i.e., when you have no place else to go and you need to recuperate, look up to God. I do not understand what is so abnormal or spell binding for the world to see Mamata Banerjee at the Jagannath Temple, Puri. Very normal, this. You are in trouble, you feel helpless, and your misdeeds are haunting you. You fear that your past is catching up, your sins are now being accounted for and you do not have anywhere else to hide. You usually end up at a holy place. Praying hard to redeem yourself. Urging priests to placate the Gods. Mamata Banerjee, if not any less, is in as much helplessness as Amitabh Bachchan from Deewar. In the movie he prayed for the health and life of his mother. Hoping that Mamata Banerjee’s mother is fine (I pray for her long life and health as well).

If it was just praying, it could have been at any temple. Why only Jagannath temple? Unless there are not any temples left in West Bengal (WB). I am still hoping that there are still a few temples left in WB. But even if there are, it might not please her vote bank. Also there is a scope of her being looked at as a hypocrite. Remember the recent riots, the banning of Durga Puja, and the riots yet again? It would rather have had an adverse effect to her image and politics by going to a temple in WB. Lord Jagannath temple at Puri is one of the Char Dham. Given the proximity to the temple, in terms of both the physical and political distance, Jagannath Temple, Odisha makes sense. The other three Dhams are a long shot, perhaps both physically and politically. They are in Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu does not interest her politically, and the other two states are apparently politically hostile to her and run by allegedly misguiding saffron forces of Hindutva, i.e., the BJP.

There is also another significance of praying at Jagannath temple. Praying at a temple of Char Dham, it is believed to enhance the value of your worship and it is sort of an express route to forgiveness. Many of us are aware of the age old hindi/urdu proverb, “Sau Chuhe Kha kar, Billi chali Hajj ko” (After devouring on the lives of 100 mice, the cat goes for Hajj to offer prayers for her sins). If you look at the proverb closely, Mecca is of the greatest significance in the Islamic world. Hajj is considered the highest pilgrimage for Muslims. Insofar as Mecca is concerned, in all probability she would be denied entry (for obvious reasons). So the greater the pilgrimage significance of the temple, the greater is the forgiveness you pray for the sins you have committed. Hence, Jagannath temple strategically makes sense.

One wonders as to what is the helplessness, the sudden urge to visit a Lord of Char Dham. Elections are not near, neither in WB nor in Odisha, CBI is still pending inquiry in Narada and Sharada, the world is not much concerned about the riots, the madrasas filled with weapons is old news, and the minorities are seemingly “happy” and “safe”. She does not have any competitors left to challenge her as the face of the Maha-GathBandhan (Grand Alliance). No Yadavs, Mayawatis, Gandhis, Jayalalithas, Kejriwals to question her as the poster girl of such an alliance for 2019. Nitish and Patnaik are busy fending for their own territories. The Left are left with their political significance only to the campus of Jawaharlal National University, New Delhi. What exactly is it that is bothering her? What is the restlessness to visit Odisha just a couple of days after the conclusion of a successful BJP national executive meet?

Is she afraid of the rise and rise of the BJP? Is she afraid that she might also meet the fate of the other regional leaders who have been made defunct in the recent elections? Is she afraid that banking too much on the age old vote banks of minorities will seal her defeat in the State and the Centre? Or is it just that the cat mistook the cow for the mice?

Apparently, for the Hindus, no sin is bigger than that. It brought about the 1857 mutiny. One still wonders.


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