The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh is considering setting up a Vedic city and an institute of temple management. A project report for Vedic city, the more ambitious of the two projects, is being prepared while the proposal for the state institute of temple management is pending with the Finance Department, additional chief secretary (Adhyatma department) Manoj Shrivastav told The Sunday Express.
The bureaucrat said the government will make land available for different religious groups to set up museums that will provide detailed information about respective religions. For example, the museum planned for Jainism will have sections devoted to the history, literature, and symbols of Jainism, as well as its principle tenets, Jain cosmology, its pilgrim centres and Jain food.
Shrivastav said the government won’t be in a position to manage or set up the museums, and will expect religious communities to run the show once the land is made available to them.
Bid to outdo previous govt
The Congress government’s plan can be seen as part of its bid to outdo the previous BJP regime when it comes to initiatives aimed at the majority community. After releasing its manifesto for Assembly polls, the Congress had admitted it wanted to shed its pro-Muslim image thrust on it by BJP. Since it came to power in December 2018, the Kamal Nath government has named a department Spirituality (Adhyatma) Department and come up with Project Gaushala.
The institute of temple management has been planned keeping in mind the large number of temples in the state, but with most priests lacking skills to manage them. The proposed institute seeks to train the priests in management, finance and religious practices free of cost.
The institute will be set up in Bhopal at an approximate cost of Rs 50 crore. The institute will impart training in renovation of temples, especially the heritage structures, keeping the ancient temple architecture in mind. Currently, the public works department carries out renovation of many old temples, occasionally deforming the architecture.
The Congress has alleged that the previous BJP governments in the state took people for a ride as far as religious matters were concerned during their 15-year-rule. In its manifesto for the Assembly elections, the then Opposition party had made a slew of promises like building a Ram Path Gaman — the route taken by Ram on way to exile — to promote religious tourism, increase honorarium of priests, a legislation to declare as ‘living entities’ sacred rivers mentioned in the scriptures.
BJP spokesperson Rahul Kothari alleged that the Nath government is planning to collect background details of priests involved in management of temples. He said most priests are affiliated with organisations like the VHP and in the garb of training them, the Congress government will try to persuade them to shift allegiance. He alleged that false cases will be lodged against priests who won’t toe the government line.