If there is one BJP-ruled state which is emerging as a model for all others, it is the state of Karnataka. The selection of chief minister Basavaraj Bommai by the BJP has proven to be a masterstroke in the truest sense of the word. Former chief minister B S Yediyurappa left behind big shoes to fill, but CM Bommai is exceeding all expectations and working towards the fulfilment of Hindu causes like no other chief minister of the country. He is taking continuous steps to elevate Hindu society, secure it and ensure that its places of worship are made free of state control.
In the latest news, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s government has made a big announcement that will become the stepping stone for all BJP-ruled states to eventually free Hindu temples from government control. On Wednesday, chief minister Bommai said his government in Karnataka is planning to bring in a law to free Hindu temples and religious institutions from state control.
Karnataka First State to Free Hindu Temples
Speaking at the two-day state BJP executive committee meeting in Hubballi on Wednesday, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, “Currently, Hindu temples in the state are under different types of control bylaws and rules. Temples that have suffered in the hands of bureaucrats will be freed by our government. We will bring a law which will give rights to the temple management to look after their own development.”
He added, “We are planning to bring in a new Bill in the next session to make our temples free from state control. The historic decision will be taken soon after consultation with senior party leaders. Before the Budget session a law would be given shape to make our temples free from restrictions. The temples will be allowed to function freely, without any control or regulations from the state.”
With this, Karnataka has become the state which will lead all others when it comes to making the issue of freeing Hindu temples a viable and achievable goal. Now, the BJP governments in other states will follow suit. In South India, where the BJP still has a lot of scope for growth, the party can own this plank and promise people freedom of temples if voted to power. This might prove to be a gamechanger in South Indian politics.
The Apathy of Temples Under State Control
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh – these are all states ruled by ‘secular’ parties. While Tamil Nadu is currently ruled by the DMK and Kerala is controlled by the Left, in Andhra Pradesh – an explicitly pro-missionary chief minister is in power.
In May last year, TFI had reported how the Tamil Nadu government asked 47 major temples of the state to cough up a total of 10 crore rupees as a ‘contribution’ to the CM’s relief fund, so as to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Meanwhile, Kerala’s Guruvayur Temple was made to ‘contribute’ Rs. 5 crores to the CM’s Relief Fund by the Communist government of the state, using its proxies in the Guruvayur Devaswom Board.
What is more disturbing is the fact that such loot of Hindu temples is permitted by the Constitution, while other religious communities enjoy absolute freedom from the government in their places of worship. The practice of the government being bestowed with powers to administrate temples dates its origins back to colonial India when the British thought it fit to assume control over temples whenever they so desired. The Madras Hindu Religious and Endowments Act 1927 was initially also supposed to include Muslims and Christians, however, following protests, they were dropped from the purview of the said regulation, making government control over temples applicable only to Hindus.
Karnataka To Uplift Temples, Setting Benchmark for all other States
Forced conversions have been banned in Karnataka. Also, just recently, the government of Karnataka prohibited the use of temple money for any non-Hindu purposes. Now, the finances of temples will be used for Hindu causes alone. It is a known fact that Hindu temple money is gobbled up by governments and diverted to Muslim and Christian institutions. This is a blatant injustice against the Hindu community, but it is widely practised, nonetheless.
Karnataka, by freeing Hindu temples from state control, has set the ball rolling for such practices to be outlawed all across India. Karnataka has many temples. The most famous among them include:
- Udupi Sri Krishna Temple, Udupi
- Vidyashankara Temple, Sringeri
- Murudeshwara Shiva Temple, Bhatkal
- Vitthala Temple, Hampi
- Chennakeshava Temple, Belur
- Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
When the combined force of Hindu temples will be unleashed on Hindu society, for the upliftment of Hindu adherents – Indian culture as a whole will be strengthened. Perhaps, by keeping Hindu places of worship under government control, that is what vested interest groups and certain parties want to prevent. Karnataka will soon become a model state of how freeing temples can have a net positive impact on society, after which, it will practically become impossible for any state to retain control of Hindu temples.
Earlier this month, Karnataka also launched a campaign to improve C-grade temples with meagre annual incomes. Minister of Mazurai, Shashikala Jolle said the department would seek devotees’ help in this regard. Among the temples in Karnataka, 34,219 are under the C-category. All these temples will now get economic assistance from the government of Karnataka!
It is now time to kick the governments out of temples. The Bommai government in Karnataka has taken a very significant step in that direction, and Hindus must ensure that other states do as well.