The new BJP government in Karnataka headed by Jagadish Shettar was caught in a row over advising temples across the state to perform special pooja for rain.
Each of the 34,000 temples under the government’s Muzrai (religious) department can spend up to Rs 5,000 from the funds collected by them on these special rituals, says the department in an official circular sent out to temple authorities on Thursday.
The new Muzrai minister, Kota Srinivas Poojary justified the move, saying the government was not spending any money. He said that he has also appealed to mosque and church authorities to pray for rains, and hence there was no justification to criticise the move.
The circular suggests that special “pooja, homa and havan” be conducted in the last week of July and first week of August. The government’s advisory came in for sharp attack in the assembly yesterday from the opposition JD(S) and Congress, which said this was an attempt to fool the people. The issue was raised by JD(S) leader HD Revanna during the debate on the drought situation. He ridiculed the move and said the government cannot cover up its failure to tackle the drought by organising these rituals.
The government has declared 150 of the 176 talukas (revenue subdivisions) as drought-hit and has urged the central government to provide an immediate grant of Rs 2,000 crore for relief work.
Shettar, who took over as the BJP’s third CM in four years last Thursday, met the Prime Minister and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in New Delhi early this week, pleading for central assistance.