BJP Calls Karnataka Government ‘Anti-Hindu’ Over 10% Tax On Temples, Congress Reacts

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called Congress ‘anti-Hindu’ after the latter passed the ‘Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Bill 2024’ in the state assembly.

The bill mandates that the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led state government will now collect 10% of revenue from temples that have revenue exceeding Rs 1 crore and 5% from the ones that have revenue between Rs 10 lakhs to Rs 1 crore.

As the BJP and the Congress indulged in a war of words, the saffron party criticised the state government, accusing it of implementing ‘Anti-Hindu’ policies. 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 wrote on microblogging site X (formerly Twitter).

“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 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.

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

Union Minister and BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Thursday slammed the Congress government in Karnataka over the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Bill  and called it a “new low” for the state’s ruling party. “Every time you think Rahul’s Congress cannot fall any lower, along comes and example of them falling even lower,” Chandrasekhar said.

“The Karnataka Congress headed by D K Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, Rahul’s handpicked leaders for the Karnataka Congress, have today brought a Karnataka Religious Endowment Bill, where they propose that 10 per cent of donations received by the Hindu temples every year will be taken away by the government without assigning any reason or cause,” he said. “This money that is being given to the temple by Hindu devotees for the upkeep of the temple as a sign of faith is in a sense being looted by the government of Karnataka to fund their various requirements for the Congress,” he said.

“This is the government which in few months has shown crore and crore of rupees have been siphoned off and given to their contractors. And now the case they’re making to fund their corrupt politics is that the Hindu devotees in Karnataka must give money to the Karnataka Congress ATM machine… Hindu devotees’ money is being looted by the Karnataka government,” he said.

Allegations misrepresented for political gain: Siddaramaiah

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday said the allegations regarding the Karnataka government’s amendments to the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Bill appeared to be misrepresented for political gain.

Explaining his stance on the matter, he took to X and wrote, “There has always been a mandate to create a common pool since the enactment of the Act in 1997. Before the recent amendment, the contributions to the fund came from (i) ten percent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds ten lakhs rupees; (ii) five percent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds five lakhs rupees but does not exceed ten lakhs rupees; and (iii) grants received from the State Government.”

“After the amendment, the contributions to the fund will come from (i) ten percent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds one crore rupees; (ii) five percent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds ten lakhs rupees but does not exceed one crore rupees; and (iii) grants received from the State Government. The recent amendment was made solely to enhance the amount of the common pool,” he wrote.

“The common pool is administered solely for religious purposes connected with the Hindu religion,” he added.

Congress responds

Responding to it, Congress leader and Karnataka government minister Ramalinga Reddy questioned the BJP for 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 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”.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, “The baseless allegations by BJP leaders are aimed only at misleading the public and polarising people along communal lines for political leverage. BJP leaders should be ashamed of their unethical practices.”

“Their disservice to the people of Karnataka will never be forgiven. By misleading the public, BJP leaders want the youth of the country to abandon their jobs and fight an imaginary war, solely to benefit the BJP politically,” he wrote on X.

“It is clear that the @BJP4Karnataka has reserved their State President post for those who are inclined to lie. @BYVijayendra seems to be a good fit for the post, or perhaps he is competing with other BJP leaders to retain it. Shame on Vijayendra! His credibility as a leader is plummeting, much like the Indian Rupee under Narendra Modi,” he added.

(With agency inputs)

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