KOCHI: Taking exception to the growing trend of constructing huge churches in the state by spending exorbitant amounts of money, senior Congress leader A K Antony on Thursday said people should donate the money to charity instead.“Rather than constructing air-conditioned places of worship, people should spend the money on welfare activities,” said the former Defence Minister at a function organised to observe the 14th anniversary of the free meal initiative launched by Ernakulam MP K V Thomas for schoolchildren in 2003.
“In Kerala, a major portion of donations made by people goes into reconstruction of religious places. Some religious places are constructed after spending anywhere between `50 crore and `60 crore. Do we really need such huge religious places? What we need is fund for financing welfare activities for the poor. The rich should contribute a portion of their wealth for charity purposes,” Antony said.
He 50 percent of India's wealth was in the hands of one per cent of the country's population. People falling in the one per cent should come forward for undertaking charity work, he said.
"The government has certain limitations in finding funds for welfare programmes. The government and the rich should join hands for welfare works which can eradicate poverty and uplift the education sector,” Antony said. He also praised Thomas for engaging in welfare works which include providing free meals, giving money to children who scored high marks in schools and providing reading materials.
“Until now, K V Thomas MP was one of my best friends. After getting to know about his welfare activities, I feel immensely respectful towards him,” he said.
Thomas started the free meal programme at the school near the KSRTC bus station here. Under it, more than 50,000 students in 164 schools across Thomas' constituency are being provided free food at present. Now, the 'K V Thomas Vidyadhanam' is also planning to provide noodles to students in the schools during evening.
'CPM soft towards RSS'
Speaking to reporters at the Ernakulam Guest House, Antony flayed the CPM for their 'soft-approach' towards RSS.“CPM's 'opposition' to RSS is mere lip service. In reality, they support RSS. The government officers know this too, which is why Kerala schools were asked to celebrate the birth anniversary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder and RSS ideologue,” Antony said.
He said when RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat came to the state and hoisted the Tricolour in a Palakkad school, the government removed the District Collector.“In Kerala, the CPM leadership considers Congress as its main rival,” Antony said. On a different query, he said anomalies with the KPCC reconstitution list will be resolved after discussion with leaders.