Kullu: Chief minister Virbhadra Singh first reprimanded the district commissioner before a public gathering and then directed transfer of the officer for failing to carry out orders of a management takeover of Raghunath Temple.
Speaking at a public gathering, the chief minister justified the government decision to take over the temple that is central to hosting of the famous Kullu Dusherra festival from a privately managed trust to a publicly managed one and then turned around to hold deputy commissioner Hans Raj Chauhan accountable for failing to carry out the governments orders.
“Officers who cannot carryout the government’s orders don’t deserve to be in power,” said an agitated Virbhadra Singh. “Though the order to take over Raghunath Temple had been issued on 25th July, but the Kullu DC failed to take any step to do so, which is unacceptable.”
Addressing the gathering, the chief minister justified the government action as, “Raghunath Temple is not a private property of anyone as Lord Raghunathji is widely worshipped by people of Kullu valley. As the chief deity of Kullu Dusherra, the people have an unshakable faith in the deity.”
Asking Maheshwar Singh, scion of Kullu royal family to shed control of the privately managed temple trust, Virbhadra said, “we are well wishers of royal family of Kullu but formation of a publicly managed trust was far better and in the interest of the people of the valley.
“The Kullu royal family need not make a hue and cry about it but should try and understand the reason behind the government’s decision because it would improve the temples security, put in place a better audit system and upkeep of the temple would improve immensely,” he said.
The chief minister ridiculed Maheshwar Singh over a ritual called ‘Jaleb’ where the Kullu royal house scion is carried in a palanquin during the Dussehra festival rituals.
Virbhadra who himself is a scion of the Rampur Bushier royal house said “I have never come in a palanquin, on the shoulders of the common man, and other royal families too should understand that the times have changed and we should respect the changing times.’’
Citing his own example he said that the famous Bhimakali Temple of Sarahan was also a temple in which he was the main trustee but today it was not a private property. “Maheshwar Singh should understand the importance of formation of a public trust,” he said.
Asking the people to preserve old temples and the states traditional architecture he said, ”our lives revolve around our deities and they need to be conserved at all cost. Development and preservation of culture and traditions should go hand in hand that’s why the government has set aside adequate funds for renovation and repair of temples constructed in old traditional architecture.”
Takeover of the temple has divided the Kullu valley with many people, including Karan Singh, a brother of Maheshwar Singh and a minister in the Virbhadra Singh led cabinet, wanting the temple management to be taken over by a public trust.
However, Maheshwar Singh and the strong Kardar Sangh, trustees of temple deities, are opposed to a government takeover of local temple trusts by the government. Maheshwar himself is the Kardar of Raghunath Temple and has petitioned the court that has restrained the government from carrying out the unilateral takeover of the temple premises.
Earlier Karan Singh, ayurveda minister, welcomed the chief minister at the Banjar public function. On the occasion the chief minister also inaugurated an government office complex built at a cost of Rs 5.60 crore and inaugurated a new police station for which Rs 1.07 crores was spent.