Facing flak over the move to invoke divine blessings for rains to help the state reeling under drought, Karnataka Muzrai Minister Kota Srinivas Poojari on Tuesday said that the expenditure for special pujas planned in over 34,000 temples would be met by collecting funds from devotees.
The special pujas to be undertaken at a cost of Rs 18.5 crore would be organized by funds collected by devotees. "The government is not giving any money to spend on special pujas," he told the legislative council.
Responding to the Leader of the Opposition S R Patil who raised the issue, Poojari said his direction to the temples to perform the pujas would bring more income to the temples.
He said several religious heads have appreciated his efforts but thinkers condemned him adding "it (the pujas) is a contribution from my ministry to address the issue of drought."
He asked the Congress members to support the move as had been done by their party leader R V Deshpande who he said had complimented him over the issue.
"Deshapande had told me that he is sponsoring Varunamantra japa (prayer for rain god) in Uttara Kannada district for rains. I am not making this statement to gain mileage but my point is that everyone had agreed to my order," he said.
Poojari said as soon as he issued the government order, there had been heavy rains in some parts of the state.
Congress member Motamma asked Poojari to organise 'anna santarpana' (distribution of food at temples) so that people could be fed.
JD-S member Patel Shivaram said it was a "wasteful exercise".