In an apparent reach out to its core Hindu base in the state, the BJP has promised in its 2018 Karnataka poll manifesto that it will protect Hindu culture by ensuring that there is no interference by the government in administration and maintenance of temples in the state.
The manifesto, drafted by a team led by Union Minister Ananth Kumar, was released by former CM BS Yeddyurappa in Bengaluru on Friday.
The BJP has promised that it will also ensure that all the revenue generated by the temples in the state will be used only and fully for expenditure on temple and religious related activities. A Rs. 500-crore âDevalaya Punnaruthana Fundâ for the restoration and renovation of temple and mutts has also been promised.
Further, the manifesto promised that the party will ensure that all bodies formed to administer Hindu religious institutions will consist solely of members of the Hindu community.
This has been a core demand of a section of Hindus in Karnataka. Several groups of citizens have created petitions and written blogs to âreclaimâ the temples from the government. Writing for right-wing magazine Swarajya, Swami Venkataraman wrote, âThe long-term process of turning Hindu temples and institutions over to the control of Hindus themselves ought to be the second major item in the social agenda of the Modi sarkar,â adding that, âClaiming that the government must manage temples makes the implicitly bigoted assumption that Hindus alone are incapable of managing their own temples.â
Several Hindus in the state were also up in arms after it was reported in 2017 that the Congress-ruled Karnataka government was considering inclusion of mutts and temples controlled by mutts under the purview of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act.
In February 2018, a public notice issued by the Muzrai Department seeking suggestions from stakeholders on whether Hindu mutts, temples and religious institutions should come under the control of Religious Endowment Act angered the BJP. The Hindu reported that BJPâs Jagadish Shettar said, âThe move will force revered seers to stand in queue in front of the department with petitions.â