Political news in Karnataka tends to cause many to cringe.
In the past year, the country watched (and presumably shook its head in amazement) as members of the BJP party pulled one political farce after another.
The nation was daily treated to the spectacle of grown men, elected to run the state, throwing tantrums and ultimatums in a manner that would cause three-year-old children to blush with shame.
The past year of bitter infighting has stripped the Karnataka BJP of its united facade and pushed caste-politics of the worst kind to the forefront in the state.
Just when there really wasn’t anywhere lower to go, fresh news appears -
Completely ignoring the fact that India is a secular country, where politics is supposed to above religion, the state government of Karnataka, through the revenue wing, has asked some 34,000 temples under its control to conduct prayers to ease the ill-effects of a drought that has gripped the state.
Since prayers to gods are not free, or even cheap, the Government has sanctioned up to Rs 5000 per temple. That works out to around Rs 17 crore for the whole drama.
At a time when it is under severe flak for failing to take the situation in hand, the BJP government of Jagadish Shettar is planning on spending 17, 00, 00, 000 rupees in temple prayers rather than spending the amount in relief efforts, arranging for water supplies from other sources or even simply distributing that amount amongst the affected!
The cost of this desperate and pathetic cry to the gods will of course be borne by the public - The same public that has no water for crops, sanitation or consumption.
(This same public also has very little money. Think of the number of families whose lives could be transformed by just giving them each Rs one lakh outright.)
Rs 17 crore might seem small when compared to total state revenues, but it is an ominous sign of the mentality of those in power.
If government ministers have such faith in the gods, why don't they spend their own money in their own constituencies to conduct these prayers?
Will they ever vacate that 'seat' they have been fighting tooth and nail for all yearlong and leave the entire government to the gods?
Incidentally, the circular announcing the funds for the temples does not mention any mosques, gurdwaras, Jain temples or Buddhist monasteries.
The actions of the state government leave only two assumptions -
Either the BJP believes Hindu gods are specialists when it comes to rain or that devout Hindus are the only ones who need the intervention of the gods and the rest have no need for water or relief.
The only explanation the official government circular felt it needed to give was a statement that said the rituals were for "the welfare of people and cattle".
So the next time we see a farmer standing beside a barren field where all his crop have died or we meet someone who has not managed to get fresh water in five days, we can give them strength by telling them –
Do not worry! the Government has done all it can. It has asked for prayers to be held in some temple, somewhere. Water is imminent.
Unless you are Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi or an Atheist. Then you are on your own. All the best!