Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara today slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for skipping the funeral proceedings of Lingayat seer Sree Sree Shivakumara Swami on Tuesday. The last rites of the venerated godman -- popularly known as the "Walking God" -- were conducted on the premises of the Sree Siddaganga Mutt in Karnataka's Tumakuru, a day after he died of a protracted illness at the age of 111.
"PM Modi attends celebrity weddings, meets movie stars but skips the funeral of our NaDedaDuva devaru, who dedicated his life to helping the poor and the marginalised. Repeated requests to confer Bharat Ratna on him have gone in vain," he tweeted.
The Congress legislator was referring to a recent group-selfie the Prime Minister had taken with an array of Bollywood stars -- including Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurana and Karan Johar -- recently. Last month, PM Modi had attended the wedding reception of actor Priyanka Chopra and American singer Nick Jonas at a five-star hotel in the national capital.
"All I am saying is that the Prime Minister should have come. It would have meant a lot if he was seen attending such a man's funeral," Mr Parameshwara said. However, he rejected criticism that Congress president Rahul Gandhi had not attended Sree Sree Shivakumara Swami's funeral either. "Rahul Gandhi is not occupying any position in the government. When Rahul Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister, I will criticise him too," he claimed.
Although PM Modi did not attend the funeral, he sent two Union Ministers in his stead and paid tributes to the seer on Twitter. "His holiness Dr Sree Sree Sree Sivakumara Swamigalu lived for the people, especially the poor and vulnerable. He devoted himself to alleviating ills like poverty, hunger and social injustice. Prayers and solidarity with his countless devotees spread all across the world," he had tweeted, recalling how the seer used to "treat him like a son" during his visits to his temple.
Sree Sree Shivakumara Swami was known across the country for his social work, such as providing holistic education to youngsters from the poorer sections of society, preserving the ancient Sanskrit language, and helping the downtrodden in society.
His funeral was attended by both state and national leaders, including Union Ministers DV Sadananda Gowda and Nirmala Sitharaman; Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy; state BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa; former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda; yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy.
(With inputs from ANI)