Following the removal of Trivendra Singh Rawat as chief minister, who was alleged to have angered a large section of Hindus in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has, in a historic decision, announced to free 51 temples and shrines including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri from government control.
The newly appointed chief minister has overturned the decision taken by his predecessor Trivendra Singh Rawat.
“There will be a review on the decision of formation of Char Dham Devasthanam Board. State government’s management over 51 prominent temples to be removed,” he said.
The decision comes after major temples protested against the state takeover and registered their protest with the chief minister.
Around 51 shrines were under the direct control of the state government after Governor Baby Rani Maurya gave her assent to the Char Dham Devsthanam Management Bill which was passed during the winter session of the Assembly.
Justifying the passage of the new act, Trivendra Singh Rawat had said the new act will help in the professional management of the shrines.
Priests and monks from the Himalayan state were furious with the BJP government for passing the law saying they have been managing the affairs of these temples for generations which were set up by their ancestors.
Priest of the Gangotri shrine Rajnikant Semwal had even met Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Later, the VHP had said that once the donation drive for the Ram Mandir is over they will hold meetings with the temple priests and form a strategy to counter the government.
VHP’s national joint secretary Surendra Jain had even alleged that donations received by the temple could be misused.
BJP’s enfant terrible Subramanian Swamy lauded the state government’s decision saying, “So before I could argue the SLP I had filed on the Uttarakhand temple take-over issue the Government has withdrawn the Act and freed 51 temples. This is called responsive government in a democracy.”
The BJP in its Tamil Nadu Election manifesto has promised to free temples from government control.
Welcoming the announcement, VHP Central Secretary General Milind Parande said it is not the function of any government to control temples or interfere in the day-to-day affairs of its wealth or management.
BJP president JP Nadda had recently floated the idea of a central board that would manage all temples across India, misinterpreting — or not ready to concede — the demand of a large section of Hindus to free temples. While he had proposed that such a board would comprise “scholars” and “saints”, the risk in such a move remained by way of the possibility that, in the event of a regime change, the board will get filled by personnel who have an anti-Hindu sentiment or agenda. The fate of the yet-to-be-made board remains to be seen.