KCR gifts Rs 5 cr jewellery to Tirupati temple, kicks up row

Tirupati:Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao today made a princely offering of gold ornaments worth a staggering Rs 5 crore to Lord Venkateswara in Tirupati, inviting criticism from the opposition over “misuse” of public funds.

Rao donated the jewellery at the famous hill shrine to express his gratitude to the Lord for materialising ‘Telangana’, the state for whose creation the TRS leader waged a prolonged movement. The Chief Minister was said to have taken a vow to make the offering following fulfilment of his dream of a separate Telangana state.

After offering prayers to Lord Venkateswara, Rao handed over a heavy garland made of gold and studded with fossilised shells called ‘Shaligram Haram’, and a multi-string gold necklace ‘Makhara Kantabharanam’, collectively weighing about 19 kg and worth a whopping Rs 5 crore to the temple Executive Officer D Sambasiva Rao, temple sources told PTI.

Accompanied by his family members and some ministerial colleagues, Rao arrived in Tirupati last night by a special flight on a 15-hour visit to the ancient temple town.

It was the first such offering by a state government to the 2,000-year-old hill shrine, the richest in the country, temple sources said.

Later, at the sprawling Ranganayaka Mandapam inside the shrine, Rao was honoured with the sacred silk cloth and prasadam, while the high priests blessed him amid chanting of vedic hymns.

However, Rao’s action raised the hackles of his opponents who slammed him for using public money to express gratitude to the God for fulfilment of his dream.

“It’s not correct for KCR to use public money for his personal vows to god. Government should make public what transparency was maintained in the making of ornaments offered to Lord Venkateswara. To whom this contract was given, it should be made public,” Congress leader and former minister M Sasidhar Reddy told reporters here.

Reddy, a former vice-chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said he would write a letter to the Executive Officer of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the body that administers the Lord Venkateswara temple, seeking disclosure of the value of jewellery.

Telangana BJP spokesman Krishna Sagar Rao, too, attacked the Chief Minister for spending “public money for personal reasons”.

“He is possibly the only CM in the entire country today who spends public money so brazenly for personal reasons,” he said.

“BJP doesn’t have any objection to one’s religious beliefs and personal vows to god. However, these vows have to be fulfilled in individual capacity and not by using public money. Those in power should have basic competence to draw a line between personal and public spending,” Rao said in a statement.

Alleging that the TRS government has not fulfilled any of its election promises, the BJP spokesperson said it should focus on fulfilling the vows made to people.