By Shubhani Syal
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has presented gold ornaments worth about Rs. 5.6 crores to Lord Venkateswara Swamy at Tirumala recently. The ornaments included a gold garland studded with fossilised shells called “Shaligram Haram” and a multi-layered gold necklace called “Makhara Kantabharanam”.
While fighting for the separate state of Telengana, KCR had pledged various such extravagant gold ornaments to numerous Gods and Goddesses in a bid to appease them and help out his cause of a separate state. However, its been two and a half years since Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh and this is only the second promise of this nature that he has made good on after his offerings to Goddess Bhadrakali.
It has been reported as the first of such huge offerings after independence, ever made by a state government to the 2000 year old shrine.
And this is the kicker. The pledge was a personal one made by KCR, but the offering is from the state government, i.e., this is your money, taxpayers. The 5.6 crores have been taken out from the Common Good Fund of the Endowments Department, which is meant for renovation and repairs of rundown temples, not to offer extravagant gold ornaments to one of the richest shrines of the world.
Not only are these offerings unethical, but it is also unconstitutional to spend public money on personal religious beliefs. The offerings have been garnering criticism from various places including Columnist and retired All India Radio official Bhandaru Rao who has stated that if KCR did not have the personal capacity to fulfil his vows, he should have used party funds not money from the state exchequer.
It has been a repeated accusation that KCR has misappropriated state funds for his lavish home and now these personal vows. So basically, he wanted a separate state to be able to use its money for these lavish gold ornaments to be offered to gods and goddesses and become a news item?
Other than spending 3.5 crores for the golden crown offered to Goddess Bhadrakali and the 5.6 crores now spent on Lord Venkateswara, he has got a further Rs 59 lakhs sanctioned for the fulfilment of his remaining vows which includes a Bangaru Meesalu (golden moustache) for Lord Veerabhadra Swamy at Kuravi in Warangal, Mukku Paduka (nose stud) to goddess Kanaka Durga in Vijayawada and goddess Padmavathi in Tiruchanur. During this visit, he is scheduled to also visit Padmavathi Ammavaru Temple to present the nose ring to goddess Padmavathi.
K V Ramanachary, advisor on culture to the Telengana government, has tried to justify this expenditure by saying that it was a collective decision of the cabinet, keeping in mind the aspirations of the people of Telangana in achieving the separate state.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure they did not aspire to spend almost Rs. 10 crores of their hard earned money on the religious beliefs of their Chief Minister.
This overzealous spending from the state funds on fulfilment of personal vows deserves all the criticism it’s getting and more. It is surprising that there is no law against this gross misuse of public funds by a person in power which means that he is getting away with it. If a law is not in place soon to curb this trend, it won’t take much time to drain all the money from this country in such a manner, what with religion involved.
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