Telegu actor Pawan Kalyan, who is also chief of the Jana Sena Party, has raised his voice for freeing temples from government control many times in the past as well.
Telugu actor and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan demanded that temples be freed from government control. He said that in a secular democratic country, the government should not control temples when it does not control the places of worship of other religions like Islam and Christianity.
He also criticised Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy led YSRCP government in Andhra Pradesh, for the destruction of temples and attacks on Hindus.
This is not the first time Kalyan has raised his voice for temples. In September 2020, Kalyan had sat on an 11-hour long hunger strike in protest against the demolition of Hindu temples and the burning of a temple chariot. He had demanded strict action against those responsible for burning the chariot at Sri Lakshminarasimha Swamy temple at Antarvedi in East Godavari district.
In December 2020, Kalyan had demanded a CBI probe into attacks on Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh and had said that the attacks on temples and Hinduism were meticulously planned. He demanded a probe after a 400-year-old statue of Sri Rama at Ramathirtha in Vizianagaram District was demolished, and the stone head of the Sri Rama idol was thrown in the temple tank.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has been running a movement to free temples from government control. In its brainstorming session in Gujarat in December last year, the VHP prepared a roadmap to take its Free Temple movement forward. A resolution to this effect was also passed in the meeting.
It read, “Mutt-Mandirs constitute the nuclei of the belief, faith and worship of the national society of Bharat and the Tripod of Sant-Shaastra-Mandir constitutes the secret of the enduring nature of the Hindu Nation and the immortality of Mrityunjayi Bharat. Such ‘spirituo-cultural’ institutions acting as the umbilical cord, spinal cord and jugular vein to national life cannot be left to be controlled by the ‘secular’ governments and often irreverent and godless agencies.”
In November last year, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had repealed the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, 2019.
“Considering the sentiments and interests of people, honour of priests and stakeholders and others associated with Char Dham and on the basis of the report of a high-level committee constituted under Manohar Kant Dhyani, the government has decided to repeal Devasthanam Board Act”, Chief Minister Dhami had said.
The Bill, which led to massive uproar, was aimed at bringing the Char Dham of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and 49 other temples under the purview of a proposed shrine board.
On March 4, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Bommai announced that his government would free the temples in the state from government control.
“There is a long pending demand to do away with the government control on the temples. By considering these demands of devotees, autonomy will be given to temples coming under the purview of the Endowment Department. Necessary legal action will be taken to delegate the discretion of developmental works to the temples,” CM Bommai had said in the assembly while presenting the budget.
Many High Courts have observed from time to time that temples be freed from government control.
Currently, the temple management has to seek government permission to utilise the revenue generated by the temples. The plan for the development of temples and utilisation of funds must be pre-approved by the government.