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Why BJP Accused Minister Ramalinga Reddy Of Targeting Temple Revenues In Karnataka

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The recent passage of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill has sparked a heated debate between the ruling Congress government and the opposition BJP in the state. The controversy revolves around the government’s decision to collect funds from temples with a gross income of ₹10 lakh or more.

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The crux of the amendment lies in the collection of funds from temples based on their income. According to Transport and Hindu Religious Endowments Minister Ramalinga Reddy, this provision is not new but has been in existence since 2003. The recent amendment aims to make changes to the existing structure by exempting temples with an income up to ₹10 lakh from contributing to the ‘Dharmika Parishad.’ Temples with incomes between ₹10 lakh and less than one crore will contribute five percent, while those with incomes exceeding one crore will contribute ten percent. The funds collected will be directed to the Dharmika Parishad for the welfare of temple priests.

What Is Tax On Temples? Why Is Karnataka BJP Calling Congress As  'Anti-Hindu'? -

Source: Oneindia News

Minister Reddy emphasized that the proposed funds would be utilized for the benefit of temple priests, numbering between 40,000 to 50,000 in the state. The government aims to provide insurance coverage to these priests, with a focus on offering financial support to their families in case of any untoward incidents. Additionally, scholarships for the children of temple priests are on the agenda, requiring an annual allocation of five to six crore. 

On the other side of the spectrum, BJP State President B Y Vijayendra vehemently opposes the government’s move. He accuses the Congress government of attempting to siphon off donations and offerings from Hindu temples to fill its coffers. Vijayendra claims that the government plans to extract ten percent of temple revenue exceeding one crore and five percent from revenue below five crores, characterizing this as an assault on Hindu Dharma. The BJP leader insists that temple funds should be dedicatedly utilized for temple renovation and activities beneficial to devotees, rather than being diverted for other purposes.

Karnataka ministers defend 10% tax on temples amid row, criticise BJP |  India News -

Source: Business Standard

Vijayendra questions why only Hindu temples are being targeted for revenue collection, leaving out institutions from other religions. He suggests the installation of “Donation Boxes” as an alternative, allowing citizens to contribute willingly to the government’s revenue as a gesture of goodwill. The overarching concern raised by the BJP is that the government’s actions are an injustice and betrayal of people’s religious beliefs, advocating for transparent and dedicated use of temple funds for their intended purposes.

In response to the criticism, government sources clarified that the primary objective behind the bill is to enhance facilities and safety for pilgrims visiting Group ‘A’ temples. To achieve this, district-level and state high-level committees will be formed to scrutinize and review proposals related to the construction and maintenance of temple infrastructure, including buildings, roads, tunnels, electricity supply, water supply, sanitation, recreation centers, and libraries. The government asserts that the funds collected will be directed towards these essential services for the benefit and safety of pilgrims within the jurisdiction of Group ‘A’ temples.

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