Government buckles under pressure, withdraws notice on mutts

Siddaramaiah accuses BJP of ‘playing politics’ over the issue

February 09, 2018 12:27 am | Updated 12:28 am IST - Bengaluru

 Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the Legislative Council on Thursday.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the Legislative Council on Thursday.

The State government on Thursday made a U-turn and announced that the public notice inviting suggestions on whether or not mutts, their temples and Hindu religious institutions should come under the control of the Religious Endowments Act would be withdrawn.

A similar public notice had been issued during your (BJP’s) rule by the committee headed by (the former chief) justice Rama Jois. Why were you silent then? — Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister

Intervening in an adjournment motion moved by Opposition BJP on the issue in the Legislative Council, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced that the public notice seeking feedback would be withdrawn. “It is not a circular but a public notice seeking opinion. There is no question of the government taking mutts and temples under its control,” he clarified.

He said the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka had quashed the Endowments Act and directed formulating a new Act, following which public opinion was sought. “A similar public notice had been issued during your (BJP’s) rule by the committee headed by (the former chief) justice Rama Jois. Why were you silent then?” Mr. Siddaramaiah asked, displaying copies of the previous public notice.

The Siddaramaiah government has become a laughing stock by coming out with a controversial circular on the proposal to bring religious organisations within the ambit of the Religious Endowments Department at a time when it is finding it difficult to manage its own departments. It had no option but to withdraw the circular as all prominent seers, religious leaders, and the public have opposed the move. — B.S. Yeddyurappa, BJP State president

He added, “The content of the public notice issued now is the same. We will withdraw the notice till the Law Ministry is consulted over the issue.”

The Chief Minister said, “I am also a Hindu. We have respect for gods, mutts and temples. There is no need for seers to fear the notice.” He also accused the BJP of “playing politics” over the issue.

On Wednesday, the BJP had criticised the government for releasing public notice on January 29, 2018, seeking suggestions on the issue, and had accused the government of targeting Hindu religious institutions. Some seers of leading mutts had also taken objection to the notice.

The House witnessed heated discussion among BJP and Congress members over the matter. Later, unhappy with the answer and demanding an apology from the Chief Minister, BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) members staged a walkout.

This is the second time that the government, embarrassed over the content of government communiques, has made a U-turn. Earlier, a communication to superintendents of police, seeking their opinion on withdrawal of cases against minorities, had turned the heat on the government. The government then changed the circular and announced that it was not applicable only to minorities.

Bill passed

The Chalukya’s Heritage Area Management Authority Bill, 2017, which had been passed by the Legislative Assembly, received the nod from the Legislative Council on Thursday. The authority has been envisaged to conserve and develop Chalukya’s heritage area of Badami, Ihole and Pattadakal with all their archaeological remains and natural environs, and to preserve their cultural identity, and for sustainable development of the Chalukya heritage area.

Pay panel report: Government yet to take a stand, says CM

Mr. Siddaramaiah on Thursday said the government was yet to take a stand on the Sixth Pay Commission report, which was submitted to him recently. “The commission’s recommendations will come before the next Cabinet meeting and the government is yet to take a stand. It is premature to discuss about the recommendations now,” he told the House after Janata Dal (Secular) member K.T. Srikante Gowda said there were several discrepancies in the report.

Is PM’s foreign trip a waste of money?

“The Prime Minister visits foreign countries frequently. Can we call these trips waste of money? He had come to Bengaluru recently. Can we call that waste of money,” the Chief Minister said, while responding to a question from BJP member K.V. Mallikarjuna, who sought information on “extravagant expenses” of the government. The Chief Minister, who sought time to give details of advertisement spending, said even his functions attract a lot of government cars and spending, they cannot be called waste of money.

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