BENGALURU: The BJP government in the state found itself in a fix after a proposal to use funds of the famous Srikanteshwara Temple at Nanjangud for some development works in the town ran into rough weather after it was pointed out that it was against the rule. Shockingly, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai too had okayed most of the proposals.
A Public TV exposé revealed that Nanjangud BJP MLA Harshavardhan had written to the CM that the Srikanteshwara Temple has adequate funds and suggested that it can be used for constructing a Shadi Mahal, a community hall among others. Surprisingly, except for the Shadi Mahal plan, the CM had himself approved all other work using temple funds though it is against the rules of the Hindu Religious Institutions And Charitable Endowments Department.
Among the works proposed by the BJP MLA are Babu Jagjivan Ram community hall at a cost of Rs 1 crore, Madivala community hall (Rs 50 lakh) Ediga community hall (Rs 70 lakh), Savitha Samaj community hall (Rs 80 lakh), Uppara community hall (Rs 2 crore), pourakarmika community hall (Rs1 crore), Shadi Mahal (Rs 1.5 crore), Valmiki Bhavan (Rs 50 lakh), Vishwakarma community hall (Rs 30 lakh), Kuruba community hall (30 lakh), halls for Vokkaligas, Gejjegara and Ganiga communities at a cost of Rs 30 lakh each.
As per the Hindu Religious Institutions And Charitable Endowments Department rules, the temple funds can be used for its development or for other smaller temples (C category) under the department, payment of staff salaries, organising daily ritual, car festivals, special pujas, etc. Even if a major temple’s funds are to be used for the development of a smaller temple, there various rules involved.
Soon after Public TV’s exposé, several Hindu groups and some BJP leaders themselves opposed the plan. Sri Rama Sene leader Pramod Mutalik said while the allocation of funds for other communities was welcome, he objected to grant of funds for a Muslim Shadi Mahal. “This is objectionable. The CM is making a mistake and we will oppose it. The CM should not indulge in appeasement politics. The money donated by devotees should be use for the welfare of Hindus. The CM should withdraw the approval or we will launch protest”, he warned.
However, Endownment minister Shashikala Jolle said, “The Nanjangud MLA had earlier presented the proposal to me. I had rejected it as rules do not allow temple funds to be used for building community halls. Perhaps the CM has been misguided about this. I will discuss the issue with him later”.
Later, speaking to Public TV, Harshavardhan said, “Last December, the CM visited Nanjangud for the first time. The plan to build community halls was suggested to me by Chamarajanagar MP V Srinivasa Prasad about two months ago and we decided to present it to the PM. The plan was to have an Equality Complex near where the Ambedkar statue is installed. Land has already been given to the Muslim community for the Shadi Mahal. After the Legal Department raised objection, the CM suggested that funds from the Wakf Board could be utilised for the Shadi Mahal. I don’t know why this controversy is being created. No political colour should be given to it”.