He may be one of the country's best known atheists, but when it comes to funding state projects, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi does not mind the help of spiritual gurus. The Satya Sai trust has agreed to fund a project which will provide drinking water to parched Chennai. And Karunanidhi is only too happy to welcome the godman.
Till a few years ago, it was unthinkable that Karunanidhi would ever share a dais with Satya Sai Baba, however at a public appearance with the spiritual Guru in January this year, Karunanidhi asked Sai Baba's help for developmental projects. Now Sri Satya Sai Trust has agreed to upgrade the 25 km-long Kandaleru-Poondi canal, which will bring water to Chennai.
Karunanidhi may not believe in God, but as analysts say, he has proved to be a tactful politician.
"He is an atheist at a personal level, and when he shared a dais with Sai Baba, he explained his stand saying the question was not whether he believed in God, but whether he was worthy of God's trust. But at a more practical level, I buy his point From whichever source the money comes, and as long as it is not tainted, it is welcome," remarked S Murari, a political analyst.
The chief minister has kept aside his radical beliefs for good reason; With the states finances running dry due to the numerous sops given by his government, Karunanidhi desperately needs funds. Now that the Baba trust has entered into a partnership with the government, the big question is whether they will undertake the Coovum river-cleaning project.
"Cleaning the Coovum is my dream, but I will need your help. It has been quoted as a Rs 1,000 crore project. I'm not asking for the whole amount, but I will be happy if you donate the same," is M Karunanidhi's request.
This is, definitely, an image makeover. But the chief minister's tolerance towards religious matters are limited to accepting help to develop his state. When it comes to clashes between believers and non- believers within the state, Karunanidhi always sticks to his ideologies.