DMK has promised to restore and consecrate temples at a cost of ₹1,000 crore and organise tours to pilgrim centres
The DMK on Saturday found itself receiving bouquets and brickbats for its “pro-Hindu” announcements in its manifesto for the Assembly election.
Seeking to counter the charge of being “anti-Hindu”, the party came out with a series of promises, including restoration and consecration of temples at a cost of ₹1,000 crore. “There are temples where ‘kumbhabhishekham’ has not been performed for years. The DMK government will allot ₹1,000 crore for the purpose,” the manifesto said.
Besides announcing restoration of temples, which showcase Dravidian architecture, it promised to organise sponsored “spiritual tours” so as to respect the sentiments of Hindus. Every year, one lakh devotees would be selected for a tour to Rameswaram, Varanasi, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Tirupati and the Jagannath temple in Puri. Each devotee would be given a maximum of ₹25,000.
While Isha Foundation founder Jaggi Vasudev expressed his gratitude for the allocation of funds for restoration of temples, BJP leaders like Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wondered about the sudden change in the DMK’s attitude towards Hindus.
Asked whether the DMK made these promises to counter the campaign that it was anti-Hindu, party treasurer and manifesto committee chairman T.R. Baalu said that through the announcement, “we were explicitly telling” that our party is not against the Hindus.
“We are all Hindus and a lot of our party workers are visiting temples. But there is an opinion that we are anti-Hindu and anti-Brahmin. We are secular and have faith in the dictum, ‘one god and one race’. We are sending the right signal,” he said.
‘Party of rationalists’
Mr. Baalu recalled that the DMK had performed thousands of ‘kumbhabhishekham’ when it was in power.
“We are rationalists and never behave like barbarians,” he stressed.
The manifesto, released by party president M.K. Stalin, said the Girivalam Path and car streets in Tiruvannamalai would be made concrete structures and planted with trees. “As overhead electric lines are causing problem during the car festival, they will be converted into underground cables,” it said.
The party said all the temple tanks would be desilted periodically and filled with water. There is also a proposal to operate cable cars at hill temples such as Sholinghur, Tiruttani, Thiruneermalai, the Rockfort temple and Tiruchengode.
“Performing of pujas in Tamil will be extended. The services of contract and part-time employees of the temples managed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department would be regularised with all benefits,” the manifesto said. “Appointment will be given to 250 archakas who have been waiting for 14 years,” it further said.
Increase in salary
Members of the temple village priests board will get ₹2,000 in pension. Their monthly salary will be increased to ₹4,000 from ₹3,000.
Recalling the efforts made by the DMK government to make people of all communities archakas, the manifesto said 205 persons who had been trained at archaka training schools would be appointed with an adequate age relaxation.
The manifesto proposed to set up an international Vallalar centre at Vadalur to encourage amity among communities and propagate the ideas of Ramalinga Adigal.
Transport facilities and lodgings will be modernised at pilgrimage centres such as Chidambaram, Tiruvannamalai, Srirangam, Palani, Tiruttani, Rameswaram, Kanniyakumari, Nagapattinam, Courtallam, Nagore and Velankanni, the party said.