Temple bill defeat in Legislative Council: K’taka CM accuses BJP of spreading misinformation

PTI, Feb 24, 2024, 6:02 PM IST

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday blamed the opposition, especially the BJP, for the defeat of a bill to tax Hindu temples in the Legislative Council and accused the saffron party of spreading ”misinforamtion” about it.

The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024 which was passed by the Legislative Assembly earlier this week, was defeated by a voice vote in the Upper House, where the opposition has a majority, on Friday.

”There was nothing in it, they have done it intentionally. They are indulging in misinformation. The bill was to take a part of money from rich Hindu temples and give it to those Hindu temples (which earns) less, not for anything else, it will not be used for any other religious centres,” Siddaramaiah said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said, ”if we bring in a bill with this purpose, the opposition will defeat it in the Council, as they have a majority there.”

To a question about BJP leaders alleging that Congress government was planning to loot Hindus money, the Chief Minister said, ”As they (BJP) were looting, people of the state have rejected them in the last Assembly election.”

The bill among other things proposes to collect five per cent from temples whose gross income is between Rs 10 lakh and less than Rs one crore and 10 per cent from temples whose income is above Rs one crore to be put into a Common Pool Fund, administered by ‘Rajya Dharmika Parishath’.

The common pool fund is proposed to be used for Archakas’ (priests) welfare and upkeep of ‘C’ category temples (state controlled) whose annual income is less than Rs five lakh.

Responding to a query on summons issued by a city court to him, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, and Deputy CM D K Shivakumar to appear personally before it on March 28 in connection with a case filed by BJP, he said, ”we will engage a lawyer and they will respond.”

”… in a democracy, staging a protest, issuing protest ads, doesn’t amount to defamation,” he said.

The BJP had accused the Congress leaders of publish false advertisements against its party leaders, including the then Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

During the Karnataka Assembly elections last year, the Congress accused the BJP of ”40 percent corruption” and placed several advertisements in newspapers alleging corruption by the then ruling party.

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