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Feb 16, 2008 at 09:22pm IST

'Atheist' Karunanidhi visits temple, lauds guru

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Saturday visited a temple in Vellore on shared the dais with the head of a Hindu religious organisation.

The Chief Minister, known for being an atheist, was in Vellore on the occasion of the birthday of Sakthi Narayani Amma, the male spiritual head of a religious organisation who is referred to as the manifestation of goddess Lakshmi.

Karunanidhi distributed financial assistance to 320 children on behalf of the 32-year-old 'Amma' on his birthday. PTI reports he praised the spiritual head for his work for the poor.

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“I also love him because he sympathised with the poor. There is lot of difference between love and sympathy. Love could be shared by both and not sympathy," Karunanidhi said.

PTI quotes Karunanidhi as saying: "If we do everything with good faith, that is god."

This is the third such effort in the last 20 months on the part of Karunanidhi. He has also been seen in the company of Sathya Sai Baba and Mata Amritanandamayi on common platforms. The chief minister has hailed all the three as "blessed souls".

This has set off speculation whether it is a deliberate attempt to change his image and acquire acceptability amongst theist masses.

Political experts here see it as Karunanidhi's reaction to reported dissatisfaction in several quarters, including the Congress, over his derisive comments against Hindu god Ram while defending the controversial Sethusamudram project being built off the Tamil Nadu coast.

Hindu leaders are opposing the canal project saying it will damage the Ram Setu, or Adam's Bridge, which they maintain is the mythological bridge referred to in the Ramayana.

The project is also opposed by environmentalists, who argue it will prove an ecological disaster.

(With IANS and PTI)

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