By Express News Service

BHOPAL: A major controversy has erupted in BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh after a senior priest alleged that he was denied entry into garbhgriha (sanctum sanctorum) of the world-famous Mahakal Temple on Friday owing to the presence of ruling party leaders, including Kailash Vijayvargiya inside.

The alleged incident happened early on Friday at around 4 am, when BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and two MLAs of the same party, including his son Akash Vijayvargiya and Ramesh Mendola were offering prayers at the temple.

The presence of the BJP leaders inside the temple happened at the time when the treasured Bhasma Arti is performed by a group of priests inside the garbhgriha, which houses the pristine jyotirlinga. But one of the priests, Ajay Guru, who reportedly forms part of the group of priests who perform the Bhasma Arti of the jyotirlinga in the wee hours every day, alleged he was denied entry into the garbhgriha owing to presence of the BJP leaders inside.

“Why has the administration issued entry pass to me, when I’m not to be allowed entry inside due to the presence of BJP leaders, including Kailash Vijayvargiya. It’s better to throw this entry pass. I was delayed by over half an hour inside the garbhgriha owing to the incident,” Ajay Guru said after the incident.

Visuals of the priest Ajay Guru expressing his angst to the staff inside for not being allowed entry to perform the Bhasma Arti and also shouting from the locked entrance to those in the garbhgriha to allow him entry went viral throughout Friday.

“I’ll take up the matter with Ujjain district collector and state’s CM,” he shouted.

Visuals of Kailash Vijayvargiya, his MLA son and the other legislator leaving the temple after offering prayers too went viral.

In the video, when asked about a priest being denied entry into the garbhgriha owing to their presence inside, while the BJP national general secretary remained silent, his close aide and Indore II MLA Ramesh Mendola preferred covering his face with the red angavastram to steer clear of the controversy.

The same video also showed Kailash Vijayvargiya wearing the face mask on the neck and the Indore II MLA Ramesh Mendola not even bothering to wear a face mask at all, at a time when general devotees have to compulsorily wear masks for entry in the famous temple.

Some other priests even alleged that CCTV cameras inside the garbhgriha were switched off till the BJP leaders offered prayers inside. Importantly, the entry of general devotees as well as VIPs is prohibited in the temple’s garbhgriha and also the adjoining Nandi Hall in pursuance of COVID safety protocol. Only the priests are allowed entry into the garbhgriha, including during the early morning Bhasma Arti.

However, not ready to comment in the matter, the Ujjain district collector Ashish Singh denied that Bhasma Arti was delayed. He, however, added that any grievance from anyone would be probed.

Reacting to the incident, ex-MP minister and senior Congress MLA Sajjan Verma said “even when I was minister in-charge of Ujjain district, I never stepped into the temple’s garbhgriha. Only top constitutional functionaries were allowed entry there. Then now how Vijayvargiya and other BJP leaders were allowed to offer prayers inside the garbhgriha, particularly when strict COVID-19 related safety protocols are in place.”

While a senior priest has for the first time vented his ire on not being allowed entry into the Bhasma Arti in the garbhgriha, there was a stampede like situation at one of the entry points of the temple owing to heavy rush caused due to presence of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and ex-CM Uma Bharti inside the temple on the first Monday of ongoing Shrawan month on July 26.