Congress, BJP in war of words over new Bill on collection of temple funds

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BENGALURU: The ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) indulged in a war of words after the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led state government passed the ‘Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Bill 2024’ in the state assembly.

The Bill mandates that the government will now collect 10 per cent from temples that have revenue exceeding Rs 1 crore and 5 per cent which have revenue between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore.

The BJP criticized the state government, accusing it of implementing ‘anti-Hindu’ policies. Party state president B Y Vijayendra alleged that the government passed the bill to replenish its depleted coffers.

“The Congress government, which is adopting consistently anti-Hindu policies in the state, has now taken a crooked look at the revenue of Hindu temples and passed the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments bill to fill its empty coffers”, he said on X.

“Under this, the government will collect 10% of the income from temples earning over Rs 1 crore, this is nothing but poverty. The offering dedicated by the devotees for the knowledge of God and the development of the temple should be allocated for the renovation of the temple and for the convenience of the devotees. If it is allocated for another purpose, it is on the divine beliefs of the people. There will be violence and fraud”, he added.

Vijayendra also questioned why only Hindu temples are being scrutinized and not the incomes of other religions.

Responding to it, Endowments Minister Ramalinga Reddy questioned the BJP of consistently engaging in religious politics. He accused the BJP of pursuing political gains by labeling the Congress as anti-Hindu. Reddy asserted that the Congress has consistently protected temples and Hindu interests over the years.

“Sri Vijayendra Yediyurappa, It is clear that BJP, always pursue political gains by claiming that Congress is anti-Hindu. However, we, the Congress, consider ourselves the true proponents of Hinduism because, over the years, Congress governments have consistently safeguarded temples and Hindu interests”, he said.

“Did your BJP government neglect its responsibilities between 2008 and 2013, as well as from 2019 to 2023? It seems they turned a blind eye to the revenues of Hindu religious institutions and charitable endowments, despite the existence of acts or bills in place since 2001,” he added. “So, weren’t you also negligent regarding Hindu temple revenues?” Ramalinga Reddy asked.

He asserted that the people of Karnataka are aware of the BJP’s tactics, and in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, they will likely “teach them a lesson”. (ANI)

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