Congress renovation plan for 100 Ram temples to counter BJPs Ram Rajya pitch

| Updated: 06 February, 2024 7:16 pm IST

BENGALURU: Amidst political maneuvering, the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka is reportedly considering a formal request by the state Muzrai department to allocate Rs 100 crores for the renovation of numerous Ram Temples across the state. This move, perceived as an attempt to counter the BJP’s narrative branding Congress as ‘Anti-Hindu’ and ‘Anti-Ram’, has ignited debates on the potential electoral implications and the shift towards a ‘soft-Hindutva’ approach by the Chief Minister.

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The proposal, seen as a strategic response to the recent Ayodhya consecration ceremony and its potential electoral impact in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, has raised questions about the politicisation of religious sentiments. Sources within the Muzrai department suggest that a total financial aid of Rs 210 crores for temples and Rs 690 crores for other departmental works may be announced in the upcoming budget on February 16.

A senior official from the Muzrai department, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The New Indian about plans for the restoration of ancient Ram Temples and the construction of residential complexes in Ayodhya, to be included in the budget for the fiscal year 2024-25.

“The Chief Minister will announce the plan for the restoration of the ancient Ram Temple and the construction of large residential complexes in Ayodhya during the budget for the fiscal year 2024-25. Discussions are underway for the inclusion of these projects in the Hindu religious institutions and the endowment department plans for the financial year.”

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While the Congress hopes to counter BJP’s allegations of minority appeasement, Muslim political groups, and the CPI have criticised the move as political and aimed at appeasing the majority community. Afsar Kodlipete, SDPI General Secretary in Karnataka, expressed concerns over the allocation, emphasising the need for equitable distribution of funds for minority welfare.

“The Congress government has come to power after it won the en masse support of the SC/ST community, tribal community, OBC and the minorities. There are funds to the tune of Rs 10,000 crores that are yet to be disbursed for the welfare of the community. This still has not been done. We have nothing against the government spending towards the renovation of Ram temples in the state.

“But the government now is trying to ensure that the upper caste Hindu votes are intact and hence they are taking decisions in line with the statements made by the PR agents of the BJP. If this is continuing, all these communities which had voted for the Congress will desert them in the upcoming polls,” he said.

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During the Ayodhya mandir consecration, temples under the Muzrai Department were directed to conduct special prayers, viewed as a countermeasure against BJP’s Mantrakshate campaign. Meanwhile, R Ashoka, leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly, labelled Congress as “anti-Hindu,” citing alleged harassment of BJP workers and recent incidents like the removal of a saffron flag in Mandya district.

“The government ordered the arrest of activists who took part in the Ayodhya movement. They put them in jail. They are constantly harassing them. No matter what they do, the votes and those who believe in Hindutva give an answer to the Congress in the upcoming election,” he said.

The political dynamics surrounding religious sentiments continue to shape the discourse as parties navigate the complexities of identity politics in Karnataka.

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