Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is set to present gold ornaments worth Rs 5.5 crore, drawn from public exchequer, to the famed Tirumala temple of lord Venkateshwara as a thanksgiving gesture for the formation of the state.
According to official sources, KCR is planning to visit Tirumala temple in Andhra Pradesh which is one of the richest shrines in the country, on January 30.
K V Ramanachary, advisor to the Telangana government on culture, told HT that the Andhra Pradesh government has invited KCR for the inauguration of renovated Raja Gopuram (Royal Entrance) of Srikalahasti temple on January 29.
“From there, he is planning to visit Tirumala temple the following day to fulfil his long-pending vow. The tour programme is yet to be finalised,” he said.
KCR would present a Saligrama Haram (lotus model golden necklace), weighing about 14.9 kg and a five-row Kante (carcanet), weighing 4.65 kg to Lord Venkateshwara. At the current prices, the total value of the ornaments is said to be around Rs 5.5 crore.
“The ornaments are ready and in the custody of the TTD. Once KCR goes there, he would present them to the Lord,” Ramanachary said.
Known for his staunch religious faiths, KCR, during the days of movement for separate Telangana, sought to appease gods and goddesses by presenting them with gold ornaments. He had vowed to present a golden crown to goddess Bhadrakali of Warangal, Bangaru Meesalu (golden moustache) to lord Veerabhadra Swamy at Kuravi in Warangal, Mukku Pudaka (nose stud) to goddess Kanaka Durga in Vijayawada and goddess Padmavathi in Tiruchanur.
Except Bhadrakali, KCR is yet to fulfil his vows to the gods and goddesses, two and a half years after Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh.
Though he had made the vows in his individual capacity, KCR is drawing the funds from the state exchequer—the Common Good Fund of the Endowments Department (which is meant for renovation of dilapidated temples)—to fulfil them, drawing ire from opposition.
“First of all, it is against the constitutional norms to spend public money on religious beliefs. Secondly, he had taken the vow in his individual capacity. When he took the vow, the formation of Telangana was not anticipated, let alone KCR becoming the chief minister. How would KCR have fulfilled his vow had he not become the chief minister?” asked Telangana Congress spokesman Dasoju Sravan.
Columnist and retired All India Radio official Bhandaru Srinivasa Rao said it was not correct on the part of KCR to spend public money on his personal beliefs.
“If he cannot afford to spend money from his pocket, he should have used the party fund,” Rao said.
However, Ramanachary said it was a collective decision of the cabinet, keeping in view the aspirations of the people of Telangana in achieving the separate state.