BJP minister distributes ‘Ganga jal’ on ShivaratriFebruary 23rd, 2009 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS
Bangalore, Feb 23 (IANS) A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister in Karnataka arranged for distribution of ‘Ganga jal’ (water from river Ganga) to devotees visiting temples across the state on Shivratri Monday, a move sharply criticised by the opposition as an “election gimmick”.
S.N. Krisnaiah Setty, muzrai (religious endowments) and housing minister, got 50,000 litres of water from the Ganga, considered holy by the Hindus, in two tankers to Bangalore Sunday.
The water was sent in small containers to over 1,100 Shiva temples in each of the 224 legislative assembly constituencies of the state for distribution Monday.
“I have not spent money nor has government money been spent for this. My well wishers are footing the bill,” said Shetty, who landed the BJP’s first government in Karnataka in embarrassment last year by ordering temples controlled by his department to perform prayers in the name of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
He withdrew the order in the face of strong criticism from the opposition parties.
In January this year, Shetty distributed ‘laddoos’ (sweets) to devotees at 65 temples in Bangalore on Vaikunta Ekadashi, a Hindu festival when devotees of god Vishnu believe that doors to heaven open on that day.
He spent nearly Rs.1.5 million of the money collected from the temples by his department to have 300,000 laddoos distributed.
A spokesperson for Shetty said apart from Ganga jal, devotees were also given a calendar specially brought out for Shivaratri.
Shetty told reporters last week that while he was meeting the expenses for printing the calenders, “my well-wishers are paying for bringing holy Ganga jal”.
He declined to give the exact amount spent on transporting the Ganga jal in two takners covering a distance of over 2,000 km.
His spokesperson said the water was collected from Lakshman Jhula near Rishikesh, a piligrimage spot.
When Shetty announced early this month his plans to distribute Ganga jal, opposition Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) crticised the move and termed it as a gimmick to get votes in the Lok Sabha polls which are expected in April-May.
“The distribution of the holy water has gone off well. There was no stampede at any of the temples, though a large number of people stood in the queue to receive the prasadam (offering to the god),” the spokesman said.
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Tags: assembly constituencies, bharatiya janata party, devotees, doors to heaven, ekadashi, ganga jal, god vishnu, government money, hindu festival, holy ganga, housing minister, lakshman, legislative assembly, opposition parties, river ganga, setty, shivaratri, shivratri, vaikunta ekadashi, well wishers