Delhi's Ruling Party AAP Blames Modi Gov't for Charging Devotees in Temples
13:21 GMT 09.12.2021 (Updated: 10:40 GMT 19.07.2022)
The Municipal Corporation elections – or civic polls – are scheduled to be held in the Indian capital in April 2022. Since 2007, the BJP has ruled the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and later its three divisions -- the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Ahead of the upcoming municipal elections , Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP for hurting Hindu sentiments by charging devotees for temple visits and forcing the temple authorities to pay a property tax.
While the Delhi government is ruled by the AAP, the capital city's municipal corporations are governed by the BJP.
AAP politician Atishi on Thursday alleged that the BJP leaders allegedly sent out notices to several temples across Delhi threatening to seal the temples shut if they failed to pay property taxes.
"This must be happening for the first time ever in Delhi's history, that pilgrims will be charged to visit the revered Lord Hanuman Mandir and pay parking fees," Atishi added.
Calling the BJP ardent devotees of Lord Ram, Atishi accused them of minting money through taxes and charging devotees, while at the same time seeking votes in the name of God.
"The temple isn’t some commercial land but a sacred space with which hundreds of thousands of people’s faith is connected," Atishi said.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) denied the AAP allegation.
BJP's Delhi state General Secretary Harshdeep Malhotra clarified that as per the Indian law, no property tax can be levied on religious places.
"Therefore no such tax was levied in the past nor will it be taken in future," Malhotra asserted.
Malhotra retweeted a video clip of the press conference held on Tuesday in which he made a counter-attack on AAP leaders and questioned why Delhi State Chief Arvind Kejriwal, who had claimed to give 200 units of electricity and water free of cost, did not waive electricity or water costs for religious places.
"The Kejriwal government should exempt the hefty power and water bills worth thousands and hundreds of thousands of rupees which these religious places are getting rather than defaming the (Municipal) corporations," he said.
Ahead of the municipal elections slated to be held next year, the BJP and AAP political parties are slamming each other and raising issues of cleanliness, corruption, the unpaid salaries of civil servants and unavailable funds.
The issue of taxes being imposed on temples has become another topic of disagreement between the political parties.