The controversy over MB Patil, Karnataka's Water Resource Minister, offering pujas to Cauvery and Krishna rivers so that the rain gods bring good rain to the state, refuses to die down.
In a surprise move on Wednesday, Minister Patil went all out defending his move, arguing that there was nothing wrong in performing pujas, since ISRO scientists too performed pujas ahead of rocket launch.
Armed with a photograph of priests performing homa to the replica of a satellite, Minister Patil reportedly said:
"Even the ISRO scientists offered special puja and prayers at Tirupati prior to launching GSLV Mk III rocket recently. It has been reported in the media that scientists had offered special prayers by keeping a replica of the satellite. Will BJP leaders, who want me to resign for performing puja, seek the resignation of central government under which ISRO is working?
Allegations by opposition
The BJP hit out at the Congress-led government for propagating superstition by resorting to pujas to bring rain to the state. Condemning minister Patil's actions, the BJP had demanded that the Siddaramaiah government sack the minister.
The BJP had also accused the Congress government of double standards, for on one side is the government trying to pass the anti-superstition bill, whereas on the other side was a state minister resorting to special puja so that the drought-hit state gets good monsoon. CM Siddaramaiah had already distanced himself and the state government from the controversy, saying that Minister Patil was conducting the puja in his personal capacity.
Minister Patil on Wednesday, hit out at the BJP over its allegations of double standards. He said that the BJP government had spent crores of rupees in conducting special pujas and prayers to appease the rain gods, when they were in power.
The controversy erupted last week, when Minister Patil declared that the water resource department is set to perform pujas to Cauvery and Krishna rivers, that are deemed as "the lifelines of the people of Karnataka."
He had also said that the state-run Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited had allotted a sum of Rs 20 lakh for the same. However, after receiving backlash from the media and with the CM distancing himself from the matter, the minister said a day later, that he would pay for the expenses himself.
On June 2, the minister, his wife and at least ten officials of the department took part in special puja offered to the Krishna river.
On June 5, a similar puja was performed at Tala Cauvery, where river Cauvery originates.