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BJP, Cong lock horns over temple tax in Karnataka

BJP, Cong lock horns over temple tax in Karnataka

Bengaluru, Feb 22 (UNI) Karnataka BJP on Thursday flayed the Congress government in Karnataka for passing the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Bill 2024 which mandates the state to collect 10 percent tax from temples having revenue exceeding Rs 1 crore, and 5 percent from temples having revenue between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
Karnataka BJP President Vijayendra Yediyurappa said on X, "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."
Reacting to the allegations, Karnataka Minister Ramalinga Reddy accused the BJP of bringing religion into politics.
However, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the bill has been passed in the assembly to fund the ATM of DyCM DK Shivakumar and CM Siddaramaiah which is a new low of appeasement politics.
"Rahul Gandhi is holding Bharat Jodo Yatra in the country. His Congress party government in Karnataka has brought the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024 to the assembly to fund the the ATM of DK Shivakumar & Siddaramaiah. This is a new low of appeasement politics. We will oppose this bill," he said in a video message.
The BJP's objections centre around two sections of the bill - Section 19(a) and Section 25.
Section 19(a) of the bill states that the money collected under the "Common Pool Fund" can be used for the benefit of the poor and needy organisations. According to the BJP, since the term "poor and needy organisations" is not defined, it opens the possibility of misuse of such funds.
Yediyurappa alleged that Congress would use the funds for "another purpose" instead.
Section 25 of the bill allows the appointment of non-Hindu members in the management committees.
Yediyurappa said using funds for any other purpose would constitute violence and fraud. He also questioned why only Hindu temples should be targeted, not other religions.
Yediyurappa also opined that the offerings made to God should be utilised for the development of the temple and for carrying out charity works.
But Ramalinga Reddy claimed that the Congress is the real proponent of Hinduism as it has consistently safeguarded temples and Hindu interests.
"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.
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." UNI BDN SSP

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