Bribing god with taxpayers’ money

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. PTI

It is known that governments are made and unmade in the country with hundreds of crores of rupees changing hands, and many governments survive on the strength of the golden ties they have with their supporting legislators. But there is no reference to a golden contract between governments and gods in any handbook on political survival, Rousseau’s theory, May’s parliamentary practices or the anti-defection law. The HD Kumaraswamy government, however, seems to have entered into a contract literally made in gold with the god in the Kukke Subrahmanya temple, with its decision to build a golden chariot for the deity. The bill will be picked up not by Kumaraswamy or his ministers, but by the people of the state. A god’s chariot is not made of an ounce of gold. No less than Rs 80 crore of taxpayers’ money will go into the making of the chariot. 

The god is expected to ensure the long life of the government in return for the chariot. The god of war that he is, the lord of Kukke will battle the armies of Yeddyurappa, who is mobilising forces to strike again. Divine grace and intervention may be the only weapon against threats and sabotage emerging from within the ranks. But why should the people pay the god to keep the government alive? If Kumaraswamy cuts a deal with the god, it is his business and he should back it up with his own crores, without making a third party -- the people of the state — underwrite it. And, will the god take the gold, do the fighting and protect the chief minister’s chair? If the god’s ties with humans are so transactional, should it not worry Kumaraswamy? There are god-smart politicians on the other side, who have no mean reputation for money and can offer a bigger and better chariot to the god. If an MLA can be offered Rs 100 crore, god can be offered an even bigger prize. Where will that leave Kumaraswamy? 

The personal and the public should not be mixed up, and personal beliefs, in this case the chief minister’s superstition, should not influence the government’s policies and decisions. In a secular state, the government should not buy gold for any god, and is not to be guided by an astrologer on the use of public funds. It is a shame that an elected chief minister is goaded by the stars and not by norms and laws. Render unto the Kukke god only things that are the god’s, or the Gowdas’. Kumaraswamy has no authority to pay our money to the diety. 

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