Hyderabad: Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday offered gold ornaments worth Rs 5.59 crore to Lord Venkateswara of Tirumala temple, drawing criticism from the Opposition that questioned how public money can be spent for fulfilling his personal vows.
After presenting the ornaments — a Shaligram Haram, a golden garland studded with fossilised shells, and Makhara Kantabharanam, a multi-layer gold necklace, totally weighing about 19 kg and worth about Rs 5.59 crore — Mr Rao said he had made the offering to the deity on behalf of Telangana state.
He claimed he sought the deity’s blessings for the Telugu people and had used public funds in order to fulfil a vow he had made during the agitation for a separate state.
During the agitation between 2001 and 2014, Mr Rao had taken a vow to make offerings to several gods and goddesses. After coming to power as the first Chief Minister of Telangana state, he secured Cabinet approval for the list of offerings to be spent from the Common Good Fund. He has since made offerings at various temples.
The Chief Minister justified the use of public funds for the gift by saying it was all done on behalf of the people who had fought for six decades for a separate state.
Misuse of public funds: Parties
If a separate state is formed, aspirations of people of the region will be fulfilled so there is nothing wrong in the government spending funds for the offerings to various gods, the Chief Minister had reasoned.
But the argument has not impressed the Opposition. “Never in the past has any government done this,” said Congress leader and former minister M. Shashidhar Reddy.
Endowments minister A. Indrakaran Reddy defended Mr Rao. He told this newspaper that the state Cabinet had taken a decision to fulfil the vows of the Chief Minister who had fought for Telangana and added that there was nothing wrong in arranging funds from the Common Good Fund.
But a senior IAS officer, who was earlier the commissioner for endowments, said the Common Good Fund was meant for the development of small temples that are lying in shambles.
“All major temples in the state have to contribute 12 per cent of their hundi collections to the CGF and also to the Endowment Administ-rative Fund, so that funds will be spent on temples. Payment of salaries and allowances of all the endowment staff and the staff working in temples, including executive officer of the TTD, will be met from the Endowment Administrative Fund.”
He added that earlier, ‘Mutyala Talambralu’ would be sent to the Bhadradri Sitarama temple on Sriramanavami and ‘Pattu Vastrams’ to the Tirumala god during Brahmotsavams.
“Now, this is being extended to all other temples by different governments at different times, on pressure from MLAs or ministers, and all these funds will be spent from the CGF,” he said.
Earlier in the day, TTD executive officer D. Sambasiva Rao said, “only kings like Krishnadeveraya the and Mysore Maharaja had donated ornaments to the Lord in the past”. “A new era has begun with Telangana state government offering gifts to the Lord,” he added....