Sunday, January 16, 2005
Just what is the Raj Bhavan telling us?

Yesterday evening, newspapers reported that the Govt of Tamil Nadu the gloves were off the TN govt's fists - and that a communique from the Chief Minister had reached the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Office) stating that the TN Govt will be taking over the Kanchi Mutt. While the report did not come from the CM's office, Raj Bhavan did reportedly confirm it, and stated that the Governor would consult legal experts about it.

But now, both the Raj Bhavan and the CM's office are denying the reports. Why did the Raj Bhavan confirm the earlier report? What is the truth?

If Jayalalithaa govt takes over the Kanchi Mutt, it would amount to nothing less than suppression of religion. The already weak protection of religion in the Constitution of India (esp for the Hindus), will further be eroded, if not rendered meaningless, if it becomes an established precedent that the govt can take over, and run, religious institutions, even in cases of a smooth running Mutt.

Every one, including rationalists, should be worried about this. Remember, if you allow politics to mix with religion, you will also be mixing religion with politics. If the government start running mutts, how would anyone prevent Mutt controversies from becoming political issues? This sort of thing happened in the case of the Sivagiri Mutt in Kerala, where the Kerala government took over the Mutt, after a fight over the succession. And it led to whole lot of ugly politics, and communalization of the issue.

There is another issue involved. There is one, and only one, possible reason why Jayalalithaa wants to take over the Mutt - its immensely ambitious projects. All those will become mired in corruption. Should we allow this? Decide.

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