Tirupati where the flow of money never ends is now the largest recipient of new notes in donations. The TTD has even opened a demat account with the Stock Holding Corporation of India so that it can take shares and securities from the faithful.
In a fit of gratitude and extreme generosity with the taxpayers’ money, the chief minister of Telangana K Chandrashekhara Rao is planning to donate ₹5.5 crore to the fabulously wealthy Tirupati temple. With revenues last year of ₹2,600 crore, it is the richest Hindu temple in the world. The Tirumala Tirupati Devashtanam (TTD) which runs the temple attracts cash and kind in donations from all over the world, some of the more dazzling offerings have been diamond studded crowns, gold bullion and bags full of emeralds and rubies.
The TTD is no slouch when it comes to managing the bountiful donations it receives. Despite its status as a religious institution which is not bound to pay taxes, the TTD makes sure that the bulk of the donations it receives goes towards a corpus which is tax-free. Voluntary donations which are given without any specific direction that they are to go to the corpus can be treated as income but can be granted exemption subject to these being utilised for charitable or religious purposes within a specified time-frame. So the TTD has got all the angles covered.
There is nothing wrong in anyone giving money to Tirupati in his private capacity but the chief minister here, of a state with a myriad teething problems and suffering the after-effects of a severe drought, seems to be playing fast and loose with public money. Not that this is a novelty. His bullet-proofed bathroom as also his sprawling residence, his penchant to shift work to different buildings on account of vaastu have all been at great cost to the taxpayer. It is not the remit of the head of a state in a secular country to make public money available to any religious institution.
The money should have been used for public works to benefit the people. Many of our netas are religious. But conducting havans, as KCR did and making this huge donation to Tirupati in no way enhances the quality of life for the people who elected him. We rightly oppose the government using public money to subsidise the haj. The government has no business to make donations or provide subsidies to any religious institution or practice and what the Telangana CM can be easily challenged in the law. Temples were used as a convenient vehicle to dispose of currency note after the demonetisation. Tirupati where the flow of money never ends is now the largest recipient of new notes in donations. The TTD has even opened a demat account with the Stock Holding Corporation of India so that it can take shares and securities from the faithful. In 2010, the Mumbai High Court had prevented a religious trust from opening demat accounts in the name of its deities. But that was for an unregistered trust while the TTD is a registered one. It has, therefore, been able legally to get a demat account in the name of the deity.
KCR’s proposed donation is clearly aimed at securing the deity’s goodwill and blessings for himself. In which case, he should have used his own personal funds. Or provide proof that the people of the state acquiesced in this move.