The row over controlling religious mutts took an angry turn in the Karnataka Assembly on Thursday with the BJP-led Opposition objecting to a recent government notification stating that the Muzrai Department would partially control religious mutts, temples and other institutions in the state.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah, however, made a U-turn and announced to the members of the Legislative Council that the notification would be withdrawn.
Speaking to the council members, CM Siddaramaiah said, “The notification was issued after the Karnataka High Court’s direction to the government to set up a religious commission to oversee affairs of religious mutts, temples, trusts and other institutions. Considering the fact that there is severe opposition from the public, we will withdraw the notification.”
Siddaramaiah went on to reiterate that the state government had “no intention of controlling religious institutions””.
“The government has never had the intention of taking control of religious institutions. This is a court directive which cannot be ignored. The Law Department will be consulted and the governmetn will take a call only after that. Opinions of community leaders will also be taken,” Siddaramaiah added.
The former seer of Pejawar Mutt, Vishwesha Theertha had said that all religious mutts would come together and protest if the government went through with the notification.
The public notice, which was issued on Tuesday in Kannada-language newspapers, had pontiffs of several mutts up in arms. This was backed by the opposition. Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, KS Eshwarappa on Thursday, moved a motion to adjourn stating that the Siddaramaiah government had offended religious institutions and branded the ruling government as “anti-Hindu”.
“The government is trying to take control of the majority community institutions and also make good with the minorities by withdrawing cases against them. This is an anti-Hindu government,” Eshwarappa said.
Rushing to the government’s defence, CM Siddaramaiah said that while the BJP-JD(S) government was in power, a notification “ad verbatim” was issued, seeking public opinion. Siddaramaiah was dramatic, he pulled out a 2007 committee report. The committee was formed during Yeddyurappa government and then too the notification issued regarding this subject was worded exactly as the present day one, the CM states.