Four days after six of the seven sage idols collapsed in Mahakal Lok in Ujjain, due to gusty winds, which led to a major face-off between the BJP government and opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh, another knob-like concrete structure at the main gate (Nandi Dwar) of the religious corridor fell off on Thursday, causing the Congress to renew its allegations of corruption in a sharper way.
The incident comes on the eve of the scheduled visit of Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to the Mahakaleshwar temple on June 2, to pay obeisance to Lord Mahakal (Shiva). The Mahakal Lok will remain closed till 1.30pm on June 2 due to the visit, the Ujjain district administration has said on Twitter.
The concrete part, almost the size of a volleyball, and shaped like a Kalash (an inverted pot-like structure that is put atop the main dome of the temple), fell off below the arch of the huge gate (Nandi Dwar), causing the tiles on the floor below to crack.
Coincidentally, a delegation of Congress leaders was present at the spot during the incident, as they had reached to submit a memorandum to Lord Mahakaleshwar in a symbolic protest against the alleged corruption in the Mahakal Lok corridor project.
The Congress leaders said that the structure fell at a spot where media persons were standing sometime ago and added it was very fortunate that no one was hurt.
Congress media department chairman, K.K. Mishra tweeted that the falling of a Kalash from a temple structure is a 'bad omen'. Without naming the BJP or government, he said that the misdeeds have reached pinnacle now and atrocities were ruling the roost; so there is a call upon the almighty to intervene. “No one can go undetected from the eyes of almighty,” he said.
Sources said that immediately after the authorities received information of the part falling off, they restored it on the gate and also repaired the tiles. Going by the videos and photos circulating on social media, it seems that the concrete knob was fixed to underside of the gate using some glue-like material. Despite repeated attempts, THE WEEK could not talk to the Ujjain district collector Kumar Purushottam.
Renewing allegations of corruption, Congress leader Shobha Oza, who is in charge of different fronts and organizations of the MP Congress and who was part of the delegation that visited the Mahakal Lok to probe the incident of collapse of idols of the sages, said that during their visit they found that the other idols in the corridor were also getting damaged, had become discoloured and some had gotten partially dislodged from their bases.
She said that though the initial work order for the project was issued by the Congress government, the entire construction including artwork was completed during tenure of the current BJP dispensation and no care was taken to ensure the quality of the construction. “It seems that a large part of the budget was spent on the grand event organised in October 2022, during the inauguration of the Mahakal Lok by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And see what is happening to the project within a few months,” she said.
“The idols seem to have been put on the pedestals using some material like plaster of paris and the bond is not very strong. Other idols pose danger of collapse. Now with this concrete part falling off, it seems that the quality of the entire construction is under question,” Oza said.
Earlier in the day, MP Congress chief Kamal Nath had renewed a demand for a judicial probe by a sitting judge of MP High Court into the incident.
“Lord Mahakal is the centre of faith for the entire Hindu community. While idols of sages collapsed at the Mahakal Lok and there are reports of damages to idols of Gods, the Shivraj government seems like one brushing the entire matter under the carpet. Rather than getting a fair and independent probe done, a minister is giving clean chit to their own government. The Congress has made it clear that it wants a probe by a sitting judge of the High Court. If the government doesn’t fulfil this demand of the Congress, a message will be clearly conveyed that the attitude of the Shivraj government is to attack the faith of the Hindus and to protect the scammers,” Nath tweeted.