BHUBANESWAR:  The deadlock in the Assembly over delay in rituals of Lord  Jagannath and his siblings in Jagannath Temple at Puri came to an end on Wednesday with the State Government denying reports that the deities were deprived  of food. Making a statement in the House, Law Minister Pratap Jena  admitted delay in performing rituals in the temple, but the deities were  offered food. “I want to inform the members of the House that the deities were  not kept without food as reported. But, it is true that there was delay  in conducting the rituals,” Jena said.

Attributing the delay in conducting daily rituals since  Monday to a standoff between sevayats and temple administration, the  Minister said the Bhog prepared in the temple kitchen could not be  offered to deities on Bhog Mandap on Tuesday. As a result, the devotees  were deprived of getting Mahaprasad.

However, all the Neetis of the deities were performed smoothly on Wednesday and preparations for Chandan Yatra were on as per schedule. “The temple administration is making all efforts to resolve  the crisis. Talks are on with the sevayats (temple servitors) and I am  hopeful of a solution soon,” he said.

The Assembly witnessed repeated adjournments following noisy  scenes for the second day on Wednesday with opposition Congress protesting the State Government’s failure in resolving the Sri Mandir row.

As soon as the House assembled for the day, Congress legislators disrupted the proceedings by rushing into the well of the House and shouted slogans against the State Government while blaming the temple administration for failing to  restore normalcy in rituals of the deities.Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat adjourned the House three times,  first for one hour till 11.30 am, later till 12.50 pm and further till 4  pm. The Speaker then called for an all party meeting during which  the Congress legislators demanded a statement either from Chief Minister  Naveen Patnaik or the Law Minister.

Earlier, Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati warned that  the party will not allow the House to function unless the Government  restores normalcy in Puri temple.   “Lord Jagannath is the presiding deity of millions of Odias,  and the disturbances in the temple rituals have hurt their sentiment.  The State Government seems least bothered to resolve the crisis,”  Bahinipati said.

Expressing concern over politicisation of the temple row by the  opposition, senior BJD leader and former minister Damodar Rout said the administration should not get involved in the controversy as  the rituals and related matters are under the purview of Puri Gajapati  Dibyasingha Deb and Shankaracharya Nischalanand Saraswati.