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VHP for agitation to 'free' temples from govt control
George Iype in Kochi |
April 23, 2003 17:03 IST
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is now all set to a launch an agitation to 'free' scores of Hindu temples across the country from the administrative control of various state governments.
VHP international president Ashok Singhal on a visit to Kerala on Wednesday said that it is 'highly discriminatory and unjust' on the part of state governments to control the administration of various Hindu temples through political nominees. "VHP urgently demands that all the temples in the country should be relieved from the management of state government control," he said.
According to Singhal, the government custody of Hindu temples is an act that is against the spirit of the Indian Constitution. "Let the governments stay away from temple administration and leave them to religious and spiritual leaders," Singhal insisted.
VHP leaders in Kerala said that the outfit is planning to launch an agitation against the government control of the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. The Kerala government controls the Lord Ayyappa temple and other Hindu temples in the state.
"We are chalking out an agitation plan to ensure that the Kerala government does not run the Hindu temples in the state any more. We will then spread the agitation to other states like Andhra Pradesh where the government management of temples is big business," a senior state VHP leader told rediff.com.
He said Singhal has discussed 'the different temple agitation plan' with senior VHP leaders in Kerala. The move is also a deft plan from the VHP to whip up some kind of 'temple frenzy' in the southern Indian states, which are largely unaffected by its continuing stir for a Ram temple at the razed Babri mosque site in Ayodhya.
One of the VHP's major areas of agitation is said to be Andhra Pradesh as the state government manages the Tirupati temple. The Lord Venkateswara at Tirupati is the world's richest deity receiving annual donations exceeding Rs 120 crore. Officials also estimate that the temples in Andhra Pradesh alone hold gold stocks of more than 500 kilogrammes.
The scores of rich temples like Tirupati across Andhra Pradesh contribute large amount to the Common Good Fund, a government trust that Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has set up.
Andhra Pradesh's Ministry of Endowments is said to be managing some 560 small or big temples across the state. Temples are a big source of revenue for state governments like Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
VHP officials said that it would soon submit an urgent memorandum to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and various state governments asking them to set up autonomous bodies comprising spiritual and religious leaders for managing temples across the country.