party&’s donations to K’taka temples revealed
statesman news service
Bangalore, 16 July
It’s finally out. The exact largesse given by the BJP government to temples and mutts within and outside the state during its five-year tenure stood at  Rs 616 crore. As many as 12,462 temples and 562 mutts benefited from the government’s generosity.
This, even though none of the religious institutions under question ever asked the government for any funds or donations. Yet, three successive chief ministers in the BJP government thought nothing of doling out huge  sums to these institutions, each seeking to outdo the other.
For example, while Mr B S Yeddyurappa started the practice, providing Rs 200 crore during the three years he was in office, Mr Jagdish Shettar, the party&’s last chief minister before the BJP went to the polls in May 2013, allocated over Rs 250 crore to temples and mutths. In between, Mr Sadanand Gowda, who had a 10-month stint at the head of the government, provided Rs 168 crore to religious establishments.
Despite its efforts to woo the religious bodies and to ostensibly please the divine, the BJP fared miserably in the May assembly elections. This apart, the funds for the temples and mutths came at a time when the civic agencies in different districts, including the IT capital, were crying out for resources to complete on-going works.
Details about these grants and doles were given in the state assembly by the government while replying to queries from two Congress MLAs.
Predictably, Shimoga, the home district of both Mr Yeddyurappa and Mr K Eashwarappa, deputy chief minister in Mr Shettar&’s time, received the maximum amounts at Rs 64 crore. Tumkur, Udupi and Dakshin Kannada followed suit with Rs 52 crore, Rs 51 crore and Rs 37 crore, respectively.
It may be recalled that the Controller and Auditor General had come down heavily on such doles, maintaining that these were not in tune with permitted practices. It even frowned on the release of funds by Mr Yeddyurappa to temples outside the state.
The Congress government under Mr Siddaramiah, however, has sought to shy away from such practices believing as it did that “as the religious institutions and mutths were never in need of funds, so there was no point in budgeting for their needs from the state&’s resources”.
Accordingly, when Mr Siddaramiah presented his first budget on 12 July, he marked a departure from the practice started by the BJP government  by not earmarking any funds for temples and mutths.  He, however, did play safe by setting aside Rs 95 crore for minority religious institutions and backward classes, ostensibly for constructing hostels and community halls.