Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday hit out at the Congress saying people would hold their breath during the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra fearing violence, communal riots, and gunfire during its rule that ended around three decades back.
” such incidents have taken place. Twice the Lord [Jagannath]’s chariot [for the yatra] was taken away. But from the time people of Gujarat have taken away power from Congress and given it to the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], such incidents have not taken place,” he told a gathering at Rupal in Gandhinagar district after visiting a temple.
Shah, who flagged off the yatra in Ahmedabad around 4am and prayed at Shri Jagannath Temple, said from the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the Gujarat chief minister in 2001 and till now when Bhupendra Patel occupies the state’s top post, no one has dared throw a stone at the yatra. He said at least thrice the yatra was banned in Ahmedabad before the BJP came to power in 1995.
The 145th Jagannath Rath Yatra was taken out on Friday after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic and tens of thousands of devotees from all across Gujarat participated in the procession.
Patel, who has been recovering from Covid-19, was among those who joined the procession. He undertook the symbolic ritual of cleaning the way for the chariots of gods in the procession using a golden broom before the start of the yatra as per tradition.
After the ritual, the chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra embarked on the annual yatra from the 400-year Shri Jagannath Temple. The procession will return to the temple around 8.30pm after covering an 18 km route.
The procession comprises 15 decorated elephants and 100 trucks with tableaux and singers. It is taken out annually on the second day of Ashadh month as per the Hindu calendar. Around 25,000 security personnel are deployed along the yatra route.
Shah, who has been in poll-bound Gujarat for a three-day visit since Thursday, was separately scheduled to lay the foundation stones and inaugurate developmental projects in his Gandhinagar parliamentary constituency. He attended a ground-breaking ceremony of a private 750-bed hospital in Gandhinagar on Friday and laid the foundation for the beautification of a lake in Rupal.