Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has stirred a hornet's nest by allocating Rs 100 crore for the restoration of ancient Ram temples in the state, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
In a move seen as response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's participation in the consecration of the Ramlalla idol in Ayodhya, Siddaramaiah, often labelled as an atheist, inaugurated a Ram temple in Bengaluru's Mahadevapura area.
Despite the symbolic nature, a larger political strategy can be seen by the Congress government to leverage the Ram temple issue in the upcoming elections.
According to a report from Hindustan Times, the Siddaramaiah government plans to renovate around 100 old temples in the state, allocating Rs 100 crore for the purpose.
Additionally, Rs 100 crore has been proposed for the construction of residential complexes in Ayodhya, pending approval from the Uttar Pradesh government.
The announcement is expected to be made during the budget for the fiscal year 2024-25, with discussions underway to incorporate these projects into the plans of the Hindu religious institutions and the endowment department.
Muzrai minister Ramalinga Reddy stated, “We have given a proposal to the Chief Minister for the allocation of funds for the renovation… this is not politics over Ram mandir, we want to improve the temples in the state where people have been worshipping for a very long time. This project is not limited to Ram temples, other temples also will see renovation under this proposed scheme.”
The Congress defended its allocation of funds, asserting that it reflects the government's commitment to preserving ancient heritage sites.
In a tweet, the party stated, “The government has earmarked Rs 100 crores for the renovation of ancient Ram temples. Rama is also present in Karnataka… In this regard, our government has taken steps to restore ancient temples. God and religion are not an object of politics for us; it is only a spiritual path to belief and devotion.”
In response, the leader of the opposition in the Karnataka assembly, R Ashoka stated, “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 upcoming election.”
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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