Even as no party in the country is freeing temples from state control, Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar accused Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) today of discriminating against Hindus by not paying any kind of honorarium to priests and not giving permission for temple constructions. "The BJP is committed to safeguarding the Sanatana Dharma and Hindu traditions. It is unfortunate that KCR, who often claims that TS is rich, does not bother to pay salaries to poor priests of temples who will starve but will not stop offering ‘prasad’ to the presiding deity," he said.
The KCR government had decided last year that priests and other staff working at notified temples would be considered government employees and, hence, would get a 30% hike on their salaries based on the revised pay scale implemented for government employees in the state. The BJP alleges that, let alone an increased salary, no salary is paid to the priests of many temples situated in Telangana.
Addressing a group of Brahmins after they submitted a petition listing out their grievances at his Praja Sangrama Yatra at Kundaram village of the Nellutla mandal in District Jangaon as it entered the 16th day, the Karimnagar MP lamented the plight of the community "who were protecting the Hindu dharma".
Sanjay Kumar asked today why the chief minister was "not interested in paying Rs 6,000 a month as honorarium to the priests as he was giving the same to the Imams of the masjids". "The TRS government, instead of giving equal respect to all religions, is trying to drive a wedge between communities with its discriminatory approach putting all kinds of restrictions on the Hindu festivals," he charged.
The Telangana BJP chief had no qualms about stating that the party would strive to consolidate its vote bank among Hindus and bury "anti-Hindu" forces. Stating that the party would stand by the community, he promised to set up of a Brahmin Development Corporation, in place of the present defunct Brahmin Parishad if voted to power.
Hindus will be given political representation by nominating them in the next election "wherever they have a chance of winning" and will be made eligible for welfare schemes like health cards and two-bedroom housing. A Vedic school in every district and Vedic university at the state level too have been promised.
Considering the Telangana BJP chief's speeches yesterday, the party's focus is not on Hindus alone, though. Keeping in view the Devarupplula clash on 17 August, shops remained closed in Palakurthy. However, Bandi Sanjay alleged that the police forced traders to shut down their businesses and accused Warangal Police Commissioner Tarun Joshi of acting like a loyalist of the ruling TRS.
“What does KCR know about the federal spirit? All that he knows is cloudburst and Jeffersons (a whiskey brand in the US). In fact, whatever development Telangana has witnessed in the last eight years, it is only due to the funds given by the Centre,” ridiculed Sanjay.
“He turned Telangana people into paupers. His government has not been able to pay salaries to the employees on time and has imposed a debt burden of Rs 1.20 lakh on each person in the State. Can he explain how many new ration cards and new pensions he has given to the people in the last eight years?” he asked. Sanjay said KCR was trying to blame the Centre for his failures.
“But they know everything and they don’t believe him. They are aware that KCR has not fulfilled many of his promises to various sections of people, including the unemployed youth, RTC workers and farmers, leading to a spate of suicides among them.”
The Narendra Modi government had brought in reservations for EWS (economically weaker sections), which would help the community get education and employment benefits, the BJP leader reminded a gathering today.
National general secretary Tarun Chugh arrived in the city and immediately got into a huddle with general secretaries G. Premender Reddy, D. Pradeep Kumar and Bangaru Shruthi, where TRS supporters ‘attacks’ on the ongoing Praja Sangrama Yatra, arrangements for the forthcoming Munugode public meeting that Home Minister Amit Shah will address on 21 August and bike rallies in the districts came up for discussion.
At a separate meeting, former minister and MLA Eatala Rajender met mandal and booth level party functionaries of the Munugode constituency along with Nalgonda district head K Sridhar Reddy where it was noted that Chief Minister KCR had "deliberately decided to hold a public meeting a day before in the constituency and this was another example of "cheap tactics". Hence, partymen were told to pull no stops in making Amit Shah’s meeting a grand success where former INC MLA Komitireddy Rajgopal Reddy will be joining the party.