Bengaluru: In possible signs of dissent in the ruling party, another Karnataka BJP legislator has expressed his disapproval over incidents of denial of permission to non-Hindu traders and vendors to carry on business during annual temple fairs and religious events in some parts of the state, calling it a “practice of untouchability.”
A H Vishwanath, the ruling party’s MLC, also asked whether the non-Hindu traders and vendors were not citizens of India, joining his party MLAs Anil Benake in opposing any such restrictions against Muslim traders during the temple fairs.
Earlier, Benake, BJP MLA from Belagavi north, had said everyone can ply his or her trade and that it is for the people to decide where to buy what.
“….it is not right, no one will accept it. It is a matter of life for a person (non-Hindu vendor) who sells flowers, bananas, kumkum (vermilion), incense sticks near temples….if he is stopped from it, what will he eat? Filling one’s stomach is important, then comes religion, caste and party….is he not the citizen of this country,” Vishwanath said in response to a question.
Questioning as to where the country is heading to, the former Minister said, “…..it is nothing but the practice of untouchability. What will happen if the Muslim countries decide Indians should not live in their territory. Are we in a position to give jobs to those who come back.”
Initially, banners were placed during the annual Kaup Marigudi festival in Udupi district. They said non-Hindu vendors and traders should not be allowed entry, and the temple management paid heed to the request of certain pro-Hindu organisations.
Later, similar banners were displayed at Padubidri temple festival also, and at a couple of temples in Dakshina Kannada district as well.
Some Hindu activists have submitted memoranda to officials in different parts of the State citing the Karnataka Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997.
When the matter came up in the Legislative Assembly recently, the BJP government sought to distance itself from it by citing a rule which states that no property, including land, building near the place of worship shall be leased to non-Hindus.
However, clarifying that the rule does not apply to street vendors outside the temple precincts and that action would be taken if that rule is not followed, the government said it would look into it and the ground reality before taking any further step.