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Siddaramaiah Counters Allegations Amid BJP Backlash: Karnataka Temple Tax Dispute:

Congress leader and Karnataka government minister Ramalinga Reddy defended the party against BJP's accusations of being anti-Hindu. He asserted that the Congress has consistently safeguarded temples and Hindu interests over the years.

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February 23, 2024 : A recent controversy has arisen following the passage of the ‘Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Bill 2024’ by the state assembly. This bill has sparked a war of words between leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led state government. Here’s a breakdown of the issue:

What the Bill Entails

Under the newly passed bill, temples generating income above ₹1 crore will be required to pay 10 percent of their net income to the government. Similarly, temples with earnings ranging between ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore will contribute 5 percent of their income to the state.

BJP’s Stand

The BJP has strongly criticized the state government over this bill. Karnataka BJP president Vijayendra Yediyurappa accused the government of passing the bill to refill its dwindling coffers. He alleged that the government aims to siphon off donations and offerings from Hindu temples to bolster its finances.

Siddaramaiah’s Response

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has refuted these allegations, terming them as misrepresented for political gains. He clarified that the amendments to the bill were intended to enhance the common pool, which has been mandated since the enactment of the Act in 1997. Siddaramaiah emphasized that this common pool is solely dedicated to religious purposes connected with the Hindu religion and is not utilized for any other purposes or other religious communities’ benefits.

Amendment Details

Before the recent amendment, contributions to the fund were as follows:

  • 10 percent of the net income for institutions earning over ₹10 lakh annually
  • 5 percent of the net income for institutions earning over ₹5 lakh but less than ₹10 lakh annually Grants received from the state government

After the amendment:

  • 10 percent of the net income for institutions earning over ₹1 crore annually
  • 5 percent of the net income for institutions earning over ₹10 lakh but less than ₹1 crore annually
  • Grants received from the state government.

Congress leader and Karnataka government minister Ramalinga Reddy defended the party against BJP’s accusations of being anti-Hindu. He asserted that the Congress has consistently safeguarded temples and Hindu interests over the years.

The Karnataka temple tax row highlights the ongoing political tensions surrounding religious institutions and finances. While the BJP alleges financial exploitation by the state government, Siddaramaiah’s administration maintains that the amendments are aimed at bolstering resources for Hindu religious activities. The controversy underscores the intersection of politics and religion in the state’s governance.

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