While Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah takes pride in calling himself a rationalist and socialist, his government is conducting pujas to please the rain gods. Two special offerings at a cost of Rs 20 lakh is being conducted by the Water Resources Department.
Karnataka's Minister for Water Resources, M B Patil will be part of the puja organised by his department on the Krishna basin on Friday at Mahabaleshwar and another at the Cauvery basin at Bhagamandala in Kodagu district on June 4. Rs 20 lakh that will be spent for the puja will come out of the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited. Just as the state is set to welcome monsoon, which is predicted to be bountiful, the government is organising special prayers.
What comes as a surprise to many is the fact that Siddaramaiah's government is investing in pujas instead of irrigation projects along the river basins. A self-proclaimed rationalist, Siddaramaiah has time and again claimed that rituals served no purpose. He was spearheading the campaign to bring in the anti-superstition bill in the state. He expressed disappointment when he was unable to bring the bill into existence due to heavy lobbying.
Siddaramaiah has tried to distance himself from the pujas being conducted and has claimed that the government is not spending on the same. However, the water resources minister has claimed that the special prayers are being held for the welfare of the people. "Both Krishna and Cauvery are the lifelines of the state, they are our gods. We are paying respects to these rivers on the lines of what is done to the Ganga river," M B Patil said.
Siddaramaiah however, maintained that pujas won't bring any rain but Rs 20 lakh is being spent nonetheless. "Pujas don't bring rain. I do not believe in that. The government is not doing any special pooja. M B Patil could be doing it in his personal capacity," Siddaramaiah said. Rs 20 lakh being spent, however, is coming from the government;s treasury.
"Won't spend government money," says M B Patil
Following widespread criticism of the Karnataka government spending Rs 20 lakh for pujas, Water Resources Minister M B Patil issued a clarification on Friday. The minister claimed that the special prayers were a part of the state's culture and were aimed at the welfare of the people. He even said that owing to the criticism, government's money will not be utilised for the pujas. "I am deeply hurt by the way this event is being misconstrued as wastage of government money. Not a single rupee will be taken from the state's treasury for the events. My friends and I will contribute personal money," he said in a note released on Friday.