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Thursday, April 18, 2024
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BJP-JDS Alliance Defeats Bill On Temple Funds In Major Blow To Congress

The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Act, 2024 was defeated on Friday in the legislative council by the combined BJP JDS opposition, dealing a blow to the Siddaramaiah-led Congress administration. The act had been placed to a vote by deputy chairman M K Pranesh.

The BJP has attacked the legislation, claiming that the government is embezzling money from wealthy temples in the state to support religious activities throughout Karnataka through the establishment of a Common Pool Fund under the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Department.

The 75-member parliament is firmly in the hands of the BJP-JDS alliance. Aside from the chairman and one open council seat, the BJP has 34 members, the Congress has 30, the JDS has 8, and one is an Independent.

The Assembly, of which the Congress government is composed of 135 out of 224 members, had previously passed the bill.

The BJP has interpreted the amendment—which aims to pool finances for temple maintenance—as evidence that the state government has taken over management of the temples. The battle breaks out just months before the Lok Sabha elections, and temples are predicted to be a hot topic, especially in light of the Ram Temple’s dedication in Ayodhya last month.

The Bill essentially intended to divert “10 per cent of the gross income in respect of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds rupees one crore,” to a common pool fund for looking after temples instead of the existing “10 per cent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds ten lakhs rupees”.

In addition, the amended law also dedicates “5 per cent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds ten lakhs rupees but does not exceed one crore rupees” to the common pool instead of the previous “5 per cent of the net income of institutions whose gross annual income exceeds five lakhs rupees but does not exceed ten lakhs rupees”.

Despite the fact that the statute establishing a shared fund for temples through cross-subsidies with profits from affluent temples dates back to 1997, the BJP has denounced it as an attempt by the Congress to embezzle monies from temples.

The amendment, according to the BJP, demonstrates that the state government is attempting to “rob” temples, explaining why only Hindu houses of worship are being targeted. The BJP was soundly defeated by the Congress last year.

The Siddaramaiah government is allegedly “casting its eye” on Hindu temple revenues in order to bolster its own finances, according to BJP state president B Y Vijayendra. He remarked, “Cronies of devotees ask why the government is interested in the revenue of Hindu temples but not in the revenue of other religions.”

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