Amid objections by the CPI(M) and minority groups, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Thursday took part in a “Rashtra Raksha Yagna” at the famous Tanot Mata temple near the India-Pakistan border in Jaisalmer district, seeking the deity’s blessings for the Army and the Border Security Force in the wake of tension between the two countries.

Ms. Raje made ‘Ahuti’ (offerings) in the yagna amid chanting of Vedic hymns by a group of 21 priests, specially sent from Jaipur by the State government-run Rajasthan Sanskrit Academy.

The yagna, along with a special ‘pooja archana’ at the temple, was officially described as a ritual aimed at boosting the morale of the soldiers stationed along the international border. The yagna would also protect the people living along the 1,040-km-long border in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Sriganganagar districts, said a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office.

‘Against Constitution’

The CPI(M) took strong exception to the yagna being organised at the State expenses and described it as an act violating the spirit of secularism enshrined in the Constitution. “Why should the rituals of a particular religion be performed to boost the morale of defence forces and citizens? India is a secular country where people professing diverse faiths reside,” CPI(M) State Committee member Rajendra Saiwal told The Hindu. The State unit of the Jamat-e-Islami Hind described the yagna as an act bringing in a “dangerous element” of communalism in the India-Pakistan war discourse. “The yagna, ostensibly to protect the country, gives recognition to a particular faith as the official religion. Then, where is the space for people from other communities,” asked JIH State president Engineer Khurshid Hussain.