Control of temples in Uttarakhand
The buck stops with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the controversial decision of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Uttarakhand Government in taking over 51 temples including the iconic Kedarnath and Badrinath temples. We know that the Kedarnath Temple is close to his heart and he as Prime Minister has visited it several times. So a Uttarakhand Chief Minister (CM) Trivendra Singh Rawat, a novice in BJP would not dare to pass a controversial Char Dham Devasthanam Act to take over 51 temples including Kedarnath without the PM’s blessing.
Why the takeover now?
This takeover of temples in Uttarakhand does not make sense. BJP as a party has always propagated that Temples should be administered by devotees and now is shown duplicity in the state of Uttarakhand.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders have expressed objection to the Uttarakhand Government’s move and even Congress leaders have declared that whenever they come to power, they will quash this Act.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has challenged the Government’s decision and the Government’s response affidavit to Swamy’s petition is ludicrous. The 21-page reply where seven pages were devoted to showing displeasure on Swamy’s tweets, did not answer the pertinent points raised by Swamy against the temple take over Act. The petition is silent on the landmark Supreme Court Judgment on Subramanian Swamy’s case against the take over of Nataraja Temple in Tamil Nadu.
On June 11, in the Uttarakhand High Court, the Central Government’s counsel also supported the State Government and the case is posted for June 22 after Swamy said that he needs a few days to counter the reply of the State Government. Uttarakhand claimed that the natural calamities of 2013 prompted the Government to pass the Act, which enables the Chief Minister to be the head of the Devasthanam and an IAS officer as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Board. The CM becoming the head of the Temple Board is atrocious. The Act further says, if the Chief Minister is not a Hindu, then the senior-most Minister from the Hindu community will head the board. How can such laws be enacted? Uttarakhand is a state where BJP and Congress come to power on a rotation basis. So what will BJP have to say when Congress Chief Minister or another Senior Minister becomes the head of temple boards?
Many right-wingers and BJP leaders make a hue and cry on the intervention of non-BJP Governments in temple administration. But the same ilk is keeping quiet on the Uttarakhand taking over temples by an Act. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders have expressed objection to the Uttarakhand Government’s move and even Congress leaders have declared that whenever they come to power, they will quash this Act.
Prime Minister Modi on June 10 had a meeting with the Chief Minister on the “re-construction” of Kedarnath Temple. It is good to know that the State wants to help or facilitate temple construction or give clearances in a speedy manner. But why take control of the temple? Some in the BJP say this was to create a good administration of Char Dham Yatra. Let Government help the millions attending Char Dham Yatra by giving good infrastructure like good roads and lodging, but it is unethical to intervene in the administration of temples by Government.
All Modi did was after the Judgment on November 9, 2019, he addressed the country and gave goody-goody talks on television.
Volte face on Temple Control in Gujarat
As Gujarat Chief Minister also Modi invited wrath for trying to intervene in temple administration and then withdrew the Act regarding this. Ramesh Swamy, a Hindutva warrior, and a technocrat has written a detailed article on this. Modi’s delays in declaring Rama Setu as a National Monument has also not gone down well with many Hindu believers. The entire case was fought and won by Subramanian Swamy challenging the mighty Congress regime. Still, the file is pending in Prime Minister Modi’s temple. Why the delay? Modi has a lot to answer when it comes to core Hindutva issues.
Till 2017, he did nothing on the Ayodhya Ram Mandir case and kept the so-called “strategic silence”. It was Subramanian Swamy’s intervention in the Supreme Court to ask to pray at the Mandir as a fundamental right that caused the case to speed up. All Modi did was after the Judgment on November 9, 2019, he addressed the country and gave goody-goody talks on television. In between, during an election rally for the Gujarat Assembly Elections in 2018, he criticised Congress lawyer Kapil Sibal for trying to delay construction of the Ram Mandir. So Mr. Modi, what did you do to speed up the case?
Some of Modi’s earlier comments like “first bathroom, then temple” comments are highly reprehensible. Secularism is embedded in Hindutva. It has been this way for thousands of years and will continue to be in the future. After all Sanatana Dharma means the Eternal Flow. It is the Hindutva upsurge that made you the Prime Minister in 2014 and it again made you the PM with a bigger mandate in 2019. So Mr. Narendra Modi, in the Uttarakhand temple takeover issue, you are crossing the limit. You must rectify it.
 Uttarkhan’s 51 temple takeover case: BJP Govt. objects to Subramanian Swamy’s petition – Jun 11, 2020, PGurus.com