The Tamil Nadu government aims to raise over Rs. 10 crore for fighting Corona by forcing only Hindu temples to part with its money while the same government spends nearly 22 crores on Muslims only for giving away rice for porridge during Ramzan.
- Venkatesan TS
At a time when the clamour for freeing of Hindu temple administration from the clutches of Tamil Nadu government is increasing, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Dept (HR & CE) of the state government has directed 47 temples to give Rs. 10 crore of surplus income to CM relief fund besides the target amount to take care of the poor. This move has come in for severe criticism as the same has not been demanded from the Chrisitian and Muslim institutions that get government grants yearly.
As a age old saying goes, Butter in one eye and lime in another, the HR & CE Principal Secretary K Panindra Reddy has directed all officials working under him in 47 temples including Madurai, Palani, Thiruchendur, Tiruttani, Thiruvannamalai, Rameswaram, Mylapore, and others to contribute Rs 35 lakhs each from the surplus funds towards feeding the poor due to lockdown. Other temples have been directed to give an amount ranging from Rs 15 lakhs to 25 lakhs. All 47 temples have to transfer the surplus fund of ten crores to CM Corona Relief fund.
There are over 36,000 ancient temples under the control of HR and CE. Lakhs of Poojaris are solely dependent on the offerings from the devotees. With the Corona pandemic and lock down, they are now left in lurch and facing starvation. Instead of helping them the TN state government has its eye on the wealth of Hindu temples to pursue its politics of appeasement.
The GO from HR & CE Principal Secretary of TN, mandates Hindu temples under its control to contribute to the CM Relief Fund to an amount of Rs.10 crores
Muslim appeasement at the cost Hindu money
Before the start of the Ramzan fasting, the state government had announced a bonanza to Muslims. It was initiated by late CM Jayalalitha to win their hearts and votes. TN government had announced that 5,450 ton rice will be given to 2,895 mosques to prepare porridge this year too which as per a simple calculation amounts to Rs.21,80,00,000. The same is not extended to the Hindus during Chitra and aadi months for preparing offerings to the village goddesses. Festivals in temples have been cancelled due to lockdown but it seems that appeasement of Muslims is important for the government at the cost of Hindu temple money.
In extending largesse to minority communities as part of appeasement policy, the incumbent AIADMK government has proved that none can match it. While presenting the budget for 2020-21, Deputy CM O Panneerselvam had announced that the fund for annual maintenance of mosques across the state would be increased to 5 crores from Rs.60 lakhs. He also said the government would spend Rs.5 crore on repairs and maintenance of churches against the earlier allocation of Rs.1 crore. The Dy CM had announced Rs.2.50 crores for annual administrative grant for the Wakf Board. Over 3.64 lakh Minority community students would be given Rs 98.66 crore as scholarships. This was, allegedly, done to mollify them after their anti CAA protests.
In February last, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said that the state government would give 50 percent subsidy to 'Ulemas' for buying two-wheelers and will also hike their pension from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000. The policy of the present rulers of TN seems to treat Hindu temples as the golden goose and extract all money till it goes dry.
TN government has announced a grant of 5,450 tons of rice for 2,895 mosques to prepare Ramzan porridge amounting to Rs.21.8 crores.
Temple money for Hindu causes only
Srivilliputhur Vaishnavite Matha head Sadagopa Ramanuja Jeeyar has urged the government to spend the temple money to pay priests who are in penury and to make offerings to deities. Puthiya Tamizhagam chief Dr Krishnaswamy has appealed to the CM to return the Rs 10 crore amount received from Temples.
Vedic Research Centre chief Bala Gauthaman has questioned the rationale behind the government decision. He said according to HR and CE act, temple income is only to be utilized for its expenses like maintenance, salary to priest, cook and others. How can the government order its officials, trustees to donate the same compulsorily? “Panindra Reddy has no jurisdiction to direct so,” he pointed out. He added that the trustees can use the money only for lawful expenses which are mandated as per law or custom. “If they transfer money, it is illegal. At one side the government asks temples to contribute to the CM relief fund and at other side gives free rice to mosques at taxpayer’s cost. This is like the rule of the Mughals and transfer of temple money like Jizya tax” he said.
Hindu Munnani has said that “At a time when the state is reeling under the corona crisis, what was the need to give rice free of cost and make Muslims to assemble at mosques disobeying social distancing norms? Like pongal gifts being given to all ration card holders including Muslims, Christians, through PDS shops, it should have given rice to all as the state has a well-knit PDS system.”
Forum for religious freedom in its paper has written, “This astounding fact of a supposedly secular government operating, selling the assets of, distributing the collections of, and in other ways imposing state control - often with appointees who are non-Hindu, and even anti-Hindu, bureaucrats or politicians - over Hindu temples, is directly responsible for the pathetic condition of many Hindu temples in India. Some temples don’t even have oil for their lamps and one time pooja.”
The TN government raises over 3000cr per annum from Hindu temples by way of Hundi collections, offerings, various Darshan tickets, special event fees, etc. Out of this, only 4-6 crores are given for maintenance and the balance of Rs. 2995 cr remains with the government. It is from this amount the government pays the salary of temple staff and meets the expenses of running it’s educational and medical institutions.
“Government is funding their Mecca, Jerusalem trips, but not for Hindus to visit Tirupati, Kasi etc. Why should the government be promoting alien religions at the cost of Hindu money”, ask Hindu activists.