Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has announced plans to give the state’s temples autonomy from government control a 2018 poll promise of the BJP, and a pet project of the Sangh Parivar. CM Bommai Big announcement, free temples from Muzrai department in Karnataka
A law to release temples from the administrative control of the government will be introduced before the budget session, he said Wednesday. The next session of the Karnataka legislature is expected to be held in February. “My government will do it Other than regulation, there shall be no restriction on administration or control of Hindu temples. There will be full freedom and autonomy,” Bommai said during his speech at the state executive meeting.
Bommai’s assurance was met with celebratory chants by party members. “Our seniors have apprised me of their opinion on how places of worship belonging to other religions have separate laws to protect them and give them freedom of administration. But Hindu temples are restricted under government control. They have raised concerns over how the temples’ own funds can’t be spent unless there is bureaucratic consent,” the CM said, right before making the big announcement.
CM Bommai announcement is the latest in a slew of measures he has taken in line with the demands of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological fountainhead, since he took charge as chief minister in July. Senior RSS leaders have been demanding for years that all Hindu temples, like mosques and churches, be given a free hand in administration, and freed from government control. Freeing temples from the endowments department has featured prominently in the BJP’s election manifestos over the years.
At a press conference in October, Karnataka Muzrai and Wakf Minister Shashikala Jolle had said that 34,563 Hindu temples and institutions in the state are administered by the Hindu religious institutions and charitable endowments (aka Muzrai) department. The Muzrai department in Karnataka is responsible for the administration, development, renovation and construction of temples. It also pays salaries to temple priests and staff, approves budgets, maintains properties, seeks accountability, and conducts audits etc.