Hyderabad: The five-day 'Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagam', being performed by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for people's welfare, began on Wednesday at his farm house in neighbouring Medak district, drawing sharp criticism from the opposition BJP and CPI(M) which accused him of misusing government machinery and wasting public money.
Rao has dismissed the charge, claiming that no government money was being spent for the 'yagam' (ritual).
The BJP disapproved of the "exorbitant splurge of money and misusing government machinery for a personal event", though the party said that it supported performing "yagnas and yagas" for the larger public good.
"BJP supports yagnas and yagas for the larger good of the society. We have no issue with his personal events either.
However, the exorbitant splurge of money and misusing government machinery for a personal event is unacceptable," Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Sagar Rao said.
"BJP demands the expenditure involved in laying roads to KCR farm house, security and logistics also be borne by the CM," he said.
The Chief Minister had last week said that, "It is purely my own Yagam. Some of my friends have come forward to support it. I am spending money from own account. Not even single naya paisa from government will be used for it."
Earlier this morning, the Chief Minister was accorded a traditional welcome when he arrived there at his farm house. He undertook a circumambulation of the 'yagashala' before performing 'Garu Prarthana' in front of the idol of 'Chandi Matha' marking the beginning of the rituals, a CMO statement said.
Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh E S L Narasimhan also took part in the puja. 'Gou puja', 'Maha Mantapa Sthapanam', 'Chandi yantra lekhanam', among others, formed part of the rituals on the first day, it said.
Massive arrangements have been made for the 'yagam' in the sprawling premises at Rao's farm house at Erravelli village in Medak district. President Pranab Mukherjee would visit the place on December 27.
The Telangana CPI(M) unit alleged that the 'yagam' being performed by the CM is against the Constitution as it promotes superstition among people.
"Everybody has individual freedom. But, it should not be forgotten that the Chief Minister is holding Constitutional responsibility. Government should not encourage actions, which promote caste and communal feelings. It is the responsibility of the government heads to safeguard Constitutional secularism," the state CPI(M) unit said in a statement.
"...the yagam is against the spirit of 'secular' Constitution. He is not confining himself to personal worship. The President, who is the head of Constitution, and other government leaders are being involved," the statement said.
The party questioned Rao's contention that there is no government expenditure involved in the event.
"It is false when Rao said he is bearing the expenditure himself. Officials of different departments are supervising the works. The expenditure of helicopters and cars, are they being borne by him? People need to know these things."
About 2,000 priests from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are taking part in the mega 'yagam' being performed for people's welfare and universal peace.
Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Bandaru Dattatreya would attend the event on different days.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu would attend the 'yagam' on December 27, the statement said.
Sringeri Mutt pontiff Jagadguru Sri Sri Sri Bharathi Theertha Swamy sent a message wishing that the yagam for be fruitful, it said.
Alleging that donations have been received from contractors and businessmen by the ruling TRS, All India Congress Committee spokesperson and former MP Madhu Yashki Goud demanded that the details of such collections be made public.
Congress would seek a CBI inquiry into the matter otherwise, he said.