Besides proposals to protect cows, the government is also set to free Hindu temples from government control.

By Anil Gejji / The Times of India

BENGALURU: By giving priority to Hindu temples, providing protection to cows and cash assistance to pilgrims in the state budget, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has continued to push his party’s Hindutva agenda.

In his maiden budget on Friday, Bommai proposed to free Hindu temples from government control, open new goshalas, develop Anjanadri Betta in Koppal district, and provide cash assistance for pilgrims undertaking the Kashi Yatra.

After virtually ensuring passage of the anti-conversion bill, which prohibits conversion of one’s religion by ‘misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage’, Bommai is now set to fulfil another long-pending demand – relinquish state control over Hindu temples.

In his budget speech, Bommai said autonomy will be given to temples under the purview of the Muzrai department. “Legal sanction will be given for temples to delegate developmental works at their discretion,” he said.

Bommai also sought to reach out to Hindutva groups by announcing 69 new gosha- las at a cost of Rs 50 crore, besides announcing a scheme for the adoption of cows in goshalas. The decision seems to stem from criticism the BJP has been facing in Uttar Pradesh over the issue of stray cattle — a result of the ban on cow slaughter.

To encourage private par- ticipation to conserve cows, the state plans to launch ‘Punyakoti Dattu Yojane’ to adopt cows in goshalas by paying Rs 11,000 annually. It also announced financial assistance for a ‘Gomata Sahakara Sangha’ to market eco-friendly products from waste generated in goshalas.
Bommai also outlined plans to develop Anjanadri Betta in Koppal district, believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, at a cost of Rs 100 crore. This includes construction of a ropeway and other basic facilities. Sources say the CM plans to complete these works to coincide with the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and get PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate them.

Another measure that would appeal to Hindu devotees is the decision to provide cash assistance of Rs 5,000 each to 30,000 pilgrims undertaking the Kashi Yatra. The CM has also proposed ‘Pavitra Yatra’, a programme which seeks to organise tours to pilgrimage centres at a discounted rate through Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation.
“When Bommai took over from BS Yediyurappa as chief minister, eyebrows were raised in the party since he did not start his career with the RSS like his predecessor and mentor,” said a senior minister, who welcomed the budget proposals. “He was seen as a socialist with considerable administrative experience. But in just about six months of being the CM, he has proved everyone wrong by demonstrating his commitment to Hindutva. ”
Congress has criticised the government’s move terming it regressive.

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