TN Government Gives Free Rice To Mosques, Gets Slammed For Asking Temples To Donate To CM’s Covid-19 Fund

TN Government Gives Free Rice To Mosques, Gets Slammed For Asking Temples To Donate To CM’s Covid-19 Fund

by M R Subramani - Tuesday, April 28, 2020 04:21 PM IST
TN Government Gives Free Rice To Mosques, Gets Slammed For Asking Temples To Donate To CM’s Covid-19 FundTamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. 
  • People are questioning whether the AIAIDMK government, which is accused of legitimising temple land-grab in the High Court, is now using them to appease a community for electoral benefits.

A decision by the Tamil Nadu government to provide wheat and rice free of cost to 2,895 mosques across the state for Ramazan feast has led to a controversy with many questioning it.

On 16 April, Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Shanmugham said the mosques would directly deliver the rice to the beneficiaries in small packets.

This is an annual affair but given the fact that resources are hard to find due to the economy being hit by Coronavirus, the move has been questioned.

Eyebrows have been raised, particularly when it has asked various temples to totally contribute Rs 10 crore to the Chief Minister's Coronavirus Relief Fund.

A total of 5,450 tonnes are to be distributed to the mosques by the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government. At a cost of Rs 21 per kg of rice that the Centre charges Tamil Nadu, the state could incur a little over Rs 11 crore for the rice distribution.

The Madras High Court, while upholding the decision, has asked the Edappadi K Palaniswami-led government to respond to a plea for extension of the scheme to other marginalised groups.

The Tamil Nadu government move has particularly come in for sharp criticism from Puthiya Tamizhagam (PT) party founder Dr K Krishnsamy and its youth leader Shyam Krishnaswamy.

PT, which enjoys a good following among the Devendra Kula Vellalar community, has been at the fore demanding that the community be de-listed from the Scheduled Castes list and be treated as a Backward Cass one.

There have been others who have criticised the AIADMK government for the decision to distribute rice free of cost to the mosques, while asking temples to contribute to the Chief Minister’s Covid-19 relief fund.

“Tamil Nadu government takes Rs 10 crore from temples for Chief Minister’s fund but gives free rice to mosques from government money. Taking from one religion alone and giving free to others is secularism? Why aren’t churches and Wakf boards contributing?” a person wondered on Twitter.

Shyam Krishnasamy asked why should rice be distributed to the mosques when some jamaats have passed resolutions rejecting it.

Dr K Krishnasamy, in a statement issued yesterday (27 April), alleged that the rice was being distributed by the AIADMK government to preserve its vote bank.

He asked why should the Palaniswami government provide rice to mosques when many people were struggling for food. Poor farmers were going hungry and the rice could have been given to them, he said.

Another said that usually, the Tamil Nadu government would supply rice to the mosques to prepare porridge during the month of Ramadan, but priorities this year should have been different.

Critics on social media also pointed out how the Tamil Nadu government had wanted to legalize squatters on temple lands before the Madras High Court stepped in to stay the order.

The state government has termed the landholdings of the temples as “unwanted lands” in the court while seeking to vacate the stay.

The state government has, however, finished distributing the rice and it is now begun to reach the targeted beneficiaries.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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