NEW DELHI: A political firestorm has erupted in Karnataka over a bill that allows the state government to charge temples a chunk of their revenues.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah-led state government passed ‘Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Bill 2024‘ in the state assembly which mandates the government to collect 10 per cent from temples that have revenue exceeding Rs 1 crore and 5 per cent which have revenue between Rs 10 lakhs to Rs 1 crore.
The bill has triggered a war of words between the ruling Congress and its staunch rival BJP, with the latter accusing the Siddaramaiah‘s dispensation of rolling out “Anti-Hindu” policies.
However, the Congress refuted BJP’s allegations, saying “the provision was not new but has existed since 2001” and that only the slabs have been adjusted.
The BJP, however, criticised the state government, accusing it of implementing ‘anti-Hindu’ policies. BJP’s state president Vijayendra Yediyurappa 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 Yediyurappa also questioned why only Hindu temples are being scrutinised and not the incomes of other religions.

BJP levied similar taxes, says Congress

Responding to it BJP’s accusations, Congress leader and Karnataka government minister Ramalinga Reddy questioned the BJP for consistently engaging in religious politics.
Reddy accused the BJP of pursuing political gains by labelling the Congress as anti-Hindu and claimed that the Congress has consistently protected temples and Hindu interests over the years.
“Sri Vijayendra Yediyurappa, It is clear that BJP always pursues 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”.
(With ANI input)


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