Bengaluru, (DHNS): Under fire from various quarters, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday announced that a notification inviting suggestions on the regulation of Hindu mutts and other religious institutions will be withdrawn.
The Department of Religious and Charitable Endowments (Muzrai), on January 29, had issued a notification inviting public opinion on the proposal to bring mutts, temples and other religious centres under its ambit. Ever since the government has faced flak from religious leaders and the Opposition parties.
A heated debate was witnessed in both Houses of the legislature on the issue on Thursday. The leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council K S Eshwarappa even sought to move an adjournment motion, accusing the government of being 'anti-Hindu'.
"There is no intention to take over Hindu mutts and temples. No decision has been taken or directive issued. Till we get an opinion from the Law Department, the notification stands withdrawn," Siddaramaiah said.
He did, however, defend the notification that was issued. He said the High Court of Karnataka in 2006, while striking down the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997 as "discriminatory," had observed that the government may consider setting up a commission to look into temple affairs by involving religious leaders and also a separate regulatory authority for religious centres.
Eshwarappa said heads of influential religious institutions such as Tontadarya, Siddaganga, Dharmasthala and Pejawar were "aghast" over the government's move. "This is a mischief. Why don't you include Muslims? It's shameful that we are even discussing a subject like this. Are Hindus and Hindu religious institutions taken for granted?"
When the BJP leaders sought to know whether the government was asleep till now because the high court order was way back in 2006, Siddaramaiah held out a notification issued in 2007 when the JD(S)-BJP coalition was in power. "The 2007 notification was issued by a high-level committee under Justice Rama Jois. Our notification was a verbatim reproduction seeking public opinion. Do you deny this? Whose mutts were you trying to take over then?" Siddaramaiah asked.
Legislative Council chairperson D H Shankaramurthy did not allow the adjournment motion "since the chief minister announced the withdrawal of the notification." The BJP walked out in protest.
BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa accused the state government of indulging in vote-bank politics by trying to take control of mutts, temples and other religious institutions in the state.
"The Siddaramaiah government is again targeting Hindus. Why take control of religious institutions of only certain communities? Is this social justice you (Siddaramaiah) are working for?" he asked.
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