Karunanidhi rubs shoulders with Hindu godman

February 16th, 2008 - 8:42 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, Feb 16 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Saturday evening shared the dais with the head of a Hindu religious organisation and distributed financial aid to over 300 underprivileged children on the occasion. The chief minister, known for being an atheist, was in Vellore on the occasion of the birthday of Sakthi Narayani Amma, the male spiritual head of a religious organisation who is referred to as the manifestation of goddess Lakshmi.

The organisation has built a golden temple in Vellore, around 180 km southwest from here. The chief minister distributed financial assistance to 320 children - on behalf of the 32-year-old ‘Amma’ on his birthday.

This is the third such effort in the last 20 months on the part of Karunanidhi. He has also been seen in the company of Sathya Sai Baba and Mata Amritanandamayi on common platforms. The chief minister has hailed all the three as “blessed souls”.

This has set off speculation whether it is a deliberate attempt to change his image and acquire acceptability amongst theist masses.

Political experts here see it as Karunanidhi’s reaction to reported dissatisfaction in several quarters - including the Congress high command - over his derisive comments against Hindu god Ram while defending the controversial Sethusamudram project being built off the Tamil Nadu coast.

Hindu leaders are opposing the canal project saying it will damage the Ram Setu, or Adam’s Bridge, which they maintain is the mythological bridge referred to in the Ramayana.

The project is also opposed by environmentalists, who argue it will prove an ecological disaster.

Experts in maritime commerce maintain the ambitious project, pegged at approximately Rs.2.5 billion three years ago, would not be able to recover its expenses.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court, which has been moved in a petition, has stayed further dredging of the area in Palk Strait.

In the backdrop of these incidents, Tamil Nadu-based political supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), which include the apolitical Dravidar Kazhagam, Ramadoss’s PMK and MDMK leader Vaiko, have been pressing for the immediate resumption of dredging.

DMK leader K. Veeramani led a statewide agitation Saturday, urging the central government to ignore protests by saffron rightwing political parties and immediately resume work on the project.

The chief minister also had endorsed the demands of a section of Hindu Malaysian citizens of Indian ethnicity, calling for religious pluralism and basic human rights in Malaysia.

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