Opposition parties are slamming Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao for spending crores on performing a religious ritual called ‘Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagnam’ aimed to appease the gods as Telangana faces drought-like situation due to scanty rainfall. KCR and his family members maintain that it is strictly a personal affair which is being done for the benefit of Telangana, and it is being funded by KCR and his family, and party leaders and well-wishers who contributed money to perform the ‘yagna’, which is said to be the biggest ever.
“Telangana Government is not funding this event. It is personal and the expenses are being borne by KCR, his party members and friends but they have invited everyone to witness the event and be a part of it,” K Kavita, MP, and KCR’s daughter said.
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The ‘yagna’ started today morning at KCR’s farmhouse at Eravelli village in Medak district, 60 kms from Hyderabad. A huge ornamental tent has been erected over several inside where 1100 priests will chant ‘mantras’ 10,000 times over five days. Many priests have come from the famous Sringeri peetham, Karnataka.
This is the second time that KCR is organizing such a ritual in favour of Telangana; he had organized the same yagna, but on a low key in May 2011, to pray for the early formation of Telangana.
KCR is learnt to have told his party leaders that the yagna being performed now will bring good fortune and mitigate the sufferings of the farmers. However, this time the sheer size and scale of the event has attracted criticism from Opposition parties which are accusing the CM of resorting to religious rituals while an agrarian crisis has hit the state with farmers committing suicide, and 55 per cent of the mandals in the state are facing water shortage. KCR hired choppers and chartered planes to personally fly down to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, religious heads and seers of various peethams, and a number of VVIPs. Nearly 2,000 police personnel have been deployed at various places to control the crowds and ensure that the event goes on smoothly.
“Religious belief is a personal thing and one can do whatever he or he wants to do in a personal capacity but what is the need to spend so many crores when the so-called richest state of India is hit by agrarian crisis and farmers are committing suicide. This season, 231 mandals, that is 55 per cent of the state, is facing a drought-like situation. There is no drinking water let alone irrigation. Farmers are in dire straits. Ideally the CM should be meeting farmers and giving them courage to see through this season instead of committing suicide. Instead, he is performing rituals hoping that it would solve the problem. I am told some Rs 15 crores is being spent on the event. Is it necessary, even if KCR and his friends are paying from their pockets? Instead, the money could have been given to the families of farmers who have committed suicide, or those who are on the verge of bankruptcy,’’ said Opposition leader in the Telangana Legislative Council Shabbir Ali of the Congress.
“KCR is claiming that he is not spending government money. But you look at the number of security personnel posted for the event, the number of official vehicles that are in use by ministers, MLAs, MPs, and others. The VVIPs and VIPs who will attend the event will all use government resources. Are these expenses factored in?,’’ Ali said.
President Pranab Mukherjee, who is on his Southern Sojourn, Union Ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Bandaru Dattatreya, and others are expected to visit the event over the next four days. On the first day today, Governor ESL Narasimhan and his wife sat beside KCR and his wife when the yagna began.
“So much money is being spent on this. KCR has all the time for these kind of things but he has no time to meet farmers who are in distress or do something for them,’’ says a livid CPI General Secretary S Sudhakar Reddy.
While 1100 priests will chant the prayers, at least 150 cooks have been hired to prepare meals for nearly 50,000 people who are expected to attend the event till December 27. To design and decorate the tents, art directors and event managers have been hired.
KCR and his family members have already brushed aside the criticism stating that things have been blown out of proportion especially the expenditure.
“It will cost Rs 5 to 6 crores and no money is being spent by government. All the expenses are being borne by me and my well wishes,” KCR said, when he announced his intention to conduct the ritual.
“Donors and friends are arranging everything needed for his event. I strongly believe in God and rituals and I think criticizing what I believe in is unfair. During the statehood agitation I had taken a vow that if separate state was formed, I will perform the Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagnam. I fulfilling it now and it is my personal issue,” KCR said.