Updated February 22nd, 2024 at 19:49 IST

Political Slugfest Erupts Over Karnataka Temple Tax Bill, BJP Calls Congress 'Anti-Hindu'

The Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government’s latest bill mandates the state to collect taxes from Hindu temples.

Reported by: Abhishek Tiwari
Row erupted in Karnataka after the Siddarmaiah-led government mandated the state to collect taxes from the Hindu temples | Image:PTI/ File Photo

Bengaluru: The Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government’s latest bill mandating the state government to collect taxes from the revenue generated at the temples in the state has drawn a fresh political firestorm across the country. The Congress government in Karnataka has passed ‘Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Bill 2024’ in the state assembly, which mandates the state government to charge 10 per cent tax from temples generating revenue exceeding Rs 1 crore and 5 per cent from Shrines with revenue of between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.

A political slugfest has sparked in the state after the bill leading to a massive trading of barbs between the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The saffron party alleged that the Siddaramaiah dispensation is indulged in rolling out "Anti-Hindu" policies.


Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar calls it ‘new low’

Union Minister and BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar slammed the Congress government in Karnataka over the bill passed by the state assembly calling it ‘new low’ for the state's ruling party.


Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, "Every time you think Rahul Gandhi's Congress cannot fall any lower, along comes an example of them falling even lower."

"The Karnataka Congress headed by DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, Rahul's handpicked leaders for the Karnataka Congress, have today brought a Karnataka Religious Endowment Bill, where they propose that 10 per cent of donations received by the Hindu temples every year will be taken away by the government without assigning any reason or cause," Chandrasekhar said.


The Union minister added, "This money that is being given to the temple by Hindu devotees for the upkeep of the temple as a sign of faith is in a sense being looted by the government of Karnataka to fund their various requirements for the Congress."

"This is the government which in a few months has shown crore and crore of rupees have been siphoned off and given to their contractors. And now the case they're making to fund their corrupt politics is that the Hindu devotees in Karnataka must give money to the Karnataka Congress ATM machine... Hindu devotees' money is being looted by the Karnataka government," he said.


BJP MLA Yashpal Suvarna said, “Once the amount goes to the treasury we will not get details about it. They have already diverted the amount of SC/STs to fulfill their freebies.They are trying to divert the issue because they are not able to do any development. We are totally fed up with this government.”

Siddaramaiah refutes BJP's allegations

Meanwhile, the Congress has refuted the BJP's allegations, saying that the provision was not new but has existed since 2001 and that only the slabs have been adjusted.

Accusing the BJP of misleading the public, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah stated on his social media that the allegations regarding the Karnataka government's amendments to the Hindu Religious appear to be misrepresented for political gain.


The Karnataka chief minister stated, “The allegations regarding the Karnataka government's amendments to the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Bill appear to be misrepresented for political gain. There has always been a mandate to create a common pool since the enactment of the Act in 1997.”

“The provisions in the bill underscore a commitment to using temple funds for the welfare and upliftment of the Hindu community, directly contradicting claims of misallocation of funds for non-Hindu purposes or the imposition of unfair taxes,” CM Siddaramaiah wrote on his X. 


Published February 22nd, 2024 at 19:47 IST