KCR offers gold worth Rs 5 crore in Tirupati: CM's religiosity hurts public exchequer, but no law against it
This time, the chief minister is in Tirupati, for the first time after the bifurcation of the state, to fulfill his vows at the Venkateswara Swamy Temple.
The formation of the state of Telangana has a bloody history going back as far as 1953. And, K Chandrasekhar Rao, the current chief minister had been involved in several agitations demanding separate statehood since 1997. KCR has never shied away from professing his faith in God, in fact just last year, he conducted a Rs 7-crore worth Ayutha Chandi Yagam, spanning over five days. And as this exclusive Firstpost report explained, the state of Telangana bore quite the cost.
This time, the chief minister is in Tirupati, for the first time after the bifurcation of the state, to fulfill his vows at the Venkateswara Swamy Temple, also known as the Tirupati temple. He will offer gold ornaments worth Rs 5 crore to the deity on behalf of the Telangana government. Just recently, on his 63rd birthday, members of Telangana Archaka Samakhya (Temples’ Priests Association) performed special pujas at as 12,254 temples across the state.
KCR and his government have made his personal vows a matter of public record: He gave a golden crown for Bhadrakali — a revered deity in Warangal, a golden moustache for Veerabhadra Swami in Kuravi, Warangal, a golden nose stud for Padmavati in Tiruchanoor, Chitoor district and another for Kanakadurgamma in Vijayawada. KCR also presented a chadar at the Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti dargah in Ajmer in 2016 and donated Rs 2.51 lakh.
The issue isn't the chief minister's personal faith, but how his faith bleeds into the sphere of public service, which by law should be free from any religious ties. Can the state of Telangana make a religious offering? "There's nothing stopping them. One could make a fiscal prudence argument or a political argument, but there is nothing in the law that prevents them from doing so," Alok Prassana Kumar, advocate based in Bengaluru, told Firstpost. And perhaps, it is this loophole that helps the chief minister get away with his religious fanfare, that shouldn't cost the public exchequer, but does.
That isn't all. The chief minister has also made plans of giving a "mega-makeover" to Yadagirigutta, now renamed as Yadadri. According to India Today, the KCR government created the Yadagirigutta Temple Development Authority (YDA) in February 2015 to oversee the makeover of the temple. The authority seeks to develop eight hillocks around the Yadagirigutta into a temple town. KCR has also offered 500 acres to Ramoji Rao of Eenadu, a prominent Telugu daily and the film city to set up a spiritual city: 'Om City'. The idea is that this city will be a temple town with replicas of shrines from across the country with movie theatres play religious movies, reports The Wire.
Essentially, the chief minister has intertwined his religious agenda and state policy — a murky territory to begin with. Not to mention that the ministers' rhetoric around his religious life mentions the welfare of the state. Even at the Yagam last year, as lakhs of people gathered to witness the event, the radio blared that those attending must have faith and pray: "Please close your eyes, fold your hands in obeisance, only then will Telangana gain salvation, prosperity and the gods will provide relief with regular rains," telling helpless individuals, reeling from the effects of a terrible drought, that their woes will vanish if they pray is something God men do, not elected representatives.
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