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PoliticsIndiaKarnataka govt backs out of move on mutts

Karnataka govt backs out of move on mutts

Bengaluru: Under flak from BJP and spiritual heads, the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka today backed out of its proposed move to bring mutts and also temples and other religious institutions run by them under the ambit of the religious endowment act.

“There is no such thinking before the government to bring any temples, maths or religious institutions…. we will look after those that are under the (relevant) department, why should we take others, it is an extra burden…” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told the Legislative Council.

A recent public notice seeking comments from the stakeholders on the move has rankled the BJP which described it as an “anti-Hindu policy” and challenged the government to take over ‘masjid’, ‘dargahs’ and churches.

The notice had also sought views regarding religious institutions belonging to Jain, and Sikh communities being brought under the purview of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997.

Several senior seers have also strongly opposed the move, with prominent Hindu pontiff Vishwesha Thirtha Swami of Pejawar Mutt saying he would leave the mutt if the government acquires it.

“I do not want to be a servant of the government,” he has said.

The government is stepping back from the controversial move at a time when the Congress and BJP are trading barbs over “Hindutva” which is emerging as a focal point in the warm up to the assembly polls due in the next few months.

“There is no such thing; it is wrong information that has gone like that…” Siddaramaiah said in response to the issue raised by the BJP.

When Leader of the Opposition in the house KS Eshwarappa pointed out that there is a public notice, the chief minister said “only opinion was sought…I have told (officials) not to ask even the public opinion, I have told them to withdraw the announcement made.”

Calling the public notice an attempt to control mutts and religious institutions, Eshwarappa said several religious leaders and pontiffs of various mutts had objected to the government’s move.

Siddaramaiah said the basis for the move was forming a new regulation following a 2006 division bench order of the high court. To obtain public opinion, the notice was issued.

“It was not to take control of temples or maths.”

“I have said that a wrong message should not go, as it will create problem. So I have asked to withdraw the announcement itself. There ends the matter, the question of taking maths or temples under control does not arise at all.

government has no such thinking and will not do also,” he added.

The 29 January last notice said a committee has been formed for framing a new draft bill and sought suggestions and views from public, priests, temple administration and staff, religious leaders, pontiffs of the maths and others interested.

It has also sought views regarding bringing religious institutions or charitable endowments established, facilitated or managed by any Hindu sects under the purview, or any other suggestions in this regard.

PTI

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