CHENNAI: Religion cannot be a tool to divide people and those who cause such a division can't be true spiritualists, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said on Saturday while appealing to the people to ignore those seeking cheap publicity, instead tread the path of progress.
Those doing politics in the name of religion are not aware of the contribution of DMK for development, including renovating temples and improving the infrastructure in heritage towns, he said.
The Chief Minister, who chose the meeting at the temple town of Tiruvannamalai known for the ancient Annamalaiyar temple, girivalam procession and Karthigai deepam festival, said he was not against any religion. But, he said he opposed those dividing people on the basis of religion. He said he ignores those accusing him of being anti-Hindus and that the accusations were from people trying to seek cheap publicity.
''I don't care about those who utter lies and seek cheap publicity. Even you should not care but move on to embrace development,'' the Chief Minister said after laying foundation stones for new projects worth Rs 340 crore, inaugurating projects worth Rs 70 crore and disbursing welfare assistance of Rs 693 crore to 1.74 lakh beneficiaries.
He said he was not running the DMK party or the government on the basis of religion but only with the objective of serving the people. To those wondering if temple renovation is a Dravidian model of governance, he said he would reiterate that such model of governance hinges on equitable development.
''To go a step further, I would say that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act was enacted in 1925 by our parent organisation, the Justice Party, to bring the temples under the control of the State government,'' Stalin said.
People who do politics in the name of religion would not know this as they lack genuine intention, he said in a veiled reference to the BJP, which has been highly critical of him. ''They are not real spiritualists. They are hypocrites. They play the religious card to serve their ends,'' the Chief Minister said.
Assuring to provide amenities for the Arunachaleshwar temple and the town and along the 14-km-long girivalam route, Stalin announced that a high-level committee comprising officials of the HR & CE, district administration and panchayats would be formed to also take up recurring maintenance work in this town.
Also, steps would be taken to formulate a detailed project report for ensuring road connectivity and a bus stand, and the projects would be implemented after obtaining environmental clearance for the benefit of 75,000 tribals living in about 20 mountainous villages in the district, he said.
He said the DMK's principles were nurtured on the philosophy of its leaders C N Annadurai and M Karunanidhi who emphasised that one can ''see God in the smile of the poor (Eazhaiyin Sirippil Iraivanai Kanbom), one clan, one God (Ondre Kulam Oruvane Devan), and all beings are equal by birth (pirapokkum ella uyirkkum).''