Law soon to free temples from restrictions: Bommai

Law soon to free temples from restrictions: Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai

Bommai said the anti-conversion bill will not just become a law, but a special task force will also be constituted to implement it properly

Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai. Credit: PTI file photo

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said his government will bring in a law to “free Hindu temples” from state control, which is a long-pending demand of Sangh Parivar groups. 

“Before the next budget session, our government will give shape to this law. We will free our temples,” Bommai said at the state BJP executive committee meeting in Hubballi. 

Bommai noted that the BJP government took just a week’s time to introduce a law to protect shrines illegally occupying public places. “This is our ideological commitment.”

“I've been told by my seniors that prayer spaces belonging to different faiths are safe under various laws. They have freedom. But, our Hindu temples are subject to several regulations and government regimen. Temple revenues are to be used only after the permission of some officer sitting on top. We will free our temples. There will be only regulation and they will be free to run with complete freedom,” he said, to which he was greeted with the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ chant. 

This move is seen as Bommai pushing the Hindutva plank further ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls, after bringing the anti-conversion bill. 

Karnataka has 34,563 temples under the Muzrai department. Of them, 205 are in the ‘A’ category with annual revenue of over Rs 25 lakh. There are 139 temples in the ‘B’ category (Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh). The remaining 34,219 temples are in the ‘C’ category. 

The Banashankari temple in Bengaluru, the Kollur Mookambika temple in Udupi and the Kukke Subramanya temple in Dakshina Kannada temples are some famous temples under Muzrai. 

Temples in the ‘A’ and ‘B’ categories earned Rs 1,383.63 crore between 2018 and 2020. A senior official in the chief minister’s office said most of this money is used for development of the temples. 

In 2008, the then chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who headed the first full-fledged BJP government in Karnataka, took the Mahabaleshwara temple in Gokarna out of Muzrai control and gave it to the Ramachandrapura Mutt, a move that ended up in litigation. 

Terming Bommai’s announcement as “extremely important”, Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya said: “It is paradoxical that a secular state involves itself in the business of running temples. Freeing up temples will further strengthen our traditional institutions. Temples can't be treated as sources of revenue, especially when those of other faiths are not seen that way.”

But, former revenue minister RV Deshpande of the Congress is not convinced. “There are many temples already free from government control. It's only the big temples that are monitored by the endowment department. It’s better that it remains that way as administration is streamlined. There’s no harm in temples being under the control of the Muzrai department."

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