Declining to describe himself as an "atheist", Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said he has been "branded" as a non-believer due to his stand against superstitious practices.
"I am not an atheist, because, even before I joined school, I was made to practice Veera Makkala Kunita (a traditional folk dance), so I had to perform in front of temple on all festivities. How can I be atheist then?" Siddaramaiah asked.
"One thing that I have adapted in my life is to look at everything scientifically and thoughtfully," Siddaramaiah said in his address at the valedictory function of Kumbhmela at T Narasipura near Mysuru.
Claiming that he was not against beliefs, the Chief Minister said, "I am against superstition and superstitious practices."
"So, whenever I spoke against certain things, some people have branded me as an atheist, and said I was against religion and beliefs."
Reiterating that he was not an atheist, Siddaramaiah said he visits temples and believes that there is one god.
"I go to Tirupati, also to Mahadeshwara Betta (Shrine of Mahadeshwara Swamy in Chamarajanagara district), but I don't go in search of specific temples for salvation," he said.
"I believe that god is everywhere and he is one, but I don't believe that one can attain salvation by visiting god in remote areas of Himalayas," he added.
Earlier too Siddaramaiah had clarified on the issue while reacting to a legislator's comment in the Assembly last year.
"I never said I was an atheist. This doesn't mean I visit temples every day with camphor and coconut in hand," he had said.