Turning to the Divine at times of distress is understandable. But how does one describe the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh who has become a land shark, attacking the temple land? Ever since the Congress came to power in the State under Rajasekhar Reddy, measures aimed at disturbing the temple activities are being taken up one after another.
The latest is the move to sell temple lands to raise money for government expenditure. And they are doing it in the guise of protecting the temple lands from grabbers. The Commissioner of the endowments department is acting as the facilitator, extending the rationale for the sell-off. According to Commissioner, A.B. Krishna Reddy, it was becoming increasingly difficult to protect the temple land. So they hit upon the idea of selling the land! By the same logic, what happens to the property and people, whom the government has failed to protect in the naxal active areas? The money raised from the land sale, running into thousands of crores, along with the irregularities involved will help the politicians.
The State government recently supported the demolition of the 1,000 pillar mandapam, under the Tirumalai Tirupati Devasvom (TTD) control. It is also taking away Rs 500 crore from the TTD on the pretext of building a vetenary college at Cuddapah. The government had sold off lands belong to temples by acquiring them illegally. On this count, the government is yet to deposit Rs 28 crore in the endowment account.
The attempts to build a church within the seven-hill area of Tirupati had just been warded off, for the time being. The church has not given up efforts yet. There are serious charges, yet to be probed, that 85 per cent of the temple revenue is being diverted to the State Exchequer. Needless to add that the Chief Minister Samuel Reddy is proactive in all this.
In olden times, temples were given land surrounding the main structure for both social and economic reasons. The temple festivals take place on these lands and also, the temples will not be dependent on the State. They would stand on the strength of their land.
In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, the DMK government did not lose much time to start meddling with the Hindu places of worship. It has unilaterally decided to appoint non-Brahmins to the post of priests. There is nothing revolutionary in the move. More than two decades ago, His Holiness Jayendra Saraswati of the Kanchi Mutt began training the socially backward classes into temple rituals. Karunanidhi, being an atheist has no business deciding on issues related to religion. Reforms ought to and will come from within the society. Karunanidhi can play patron, if he dares, to churches and mosques.
In Kerala too, the declared atheist communists fill all the temple boards with party men and even non-Hindus to such posts.
All this happens only because the Hindus allow them to happen. There is hardly any protest. The latest move by the Andhra government needs to be blocked so that it does not make a business of selling temple lands to fill its coffers.