In Setback For Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Bill To Tax Temples Defeated

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In Setback For Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Bill To Tax Temples Defeated

Siddaramaiah said allegations regarding the amendments to the bill “appear to be misrepresented”.

Bengaluru:

In a setback for the Congress-led government in Karnataka, a bill that mandated a 10 per cent tax on the income of temples that have revenues of more than Rs 1 crore was defeated in the state legislative council late this evening. This comes two days after the bill was passed in the state assembly.

The bill sparked a huge controversy in Karnataka with the opposition BJP accusing the Congress of implementing ‘Anti-Hindu’ policies.

The National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP has more numbers than the ruling government in the legislative council or Upper House in Karnataka. The Congress has 30 MLCs, BJP has 35, eight MLCs are from the JD(S) and there is one independent candidate. One seat is vacant in the council.

The Karnataka government passed ‘Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Amendment Bill 2024’ that mandates the state to collect 10 per cent tax from temples that have revenues exceeding Rs 1 crore and 5 pe rcent from those with revenues ranging between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.

After flak regarding the government’s amendments to the bill, state ministers Ramalinga Reddy and Dinesh Gundu Rao defended the move and criticised the BJP for its opposition to it.

Minister for Transport, Ramalinga Reddy alleging that BJP is “anti-Hindu” claimed that the party which was in power in 2011 had made the amendments to the bill.

“We are not anti-Hindu. Actually, the BJP is anti-Hindu. This Act came into existence in 2003. In 2011, they made some amendments. At that time, up to Rs 5 lakh, there were about 34,000 temples – they did not give any money for Dharmika Parishad. From Rs 5 Lakhs to Rs 10 Lakhs, there are about 193 ‘B grade’ temples – they have to give 5 per cent. More than Rs 10 Lakhs, there are about 205 temples – they have to give 10 per cent. They approved this amendment in 2011 in the Assembly. Who is anti-Hindu? BJP,” he said.

Minister for Health Dinesh Gundu Rao said that the BJP should realise the bill is for the benefit of the temples, alleging that when the government is trying to help smaller temples, the BJP is trying to mislead.

After the bill was cleared in the lower house of the state, former Chief Minister and BJP veteran BS Yediyurappa questioned why only Hindu temples are being scrutinized and not the incomes of other religions.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that the allegations regarding the amendments to the bill “appear to be misrepresented”, “aiming only at misleading the public” and “polarizing people along communal lines for political leverage.”

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