Stirring up controversy, a Lingayat seer on Monday alleged that mutts (monasteries) are equally affected due to rampant corruption prevailing in Karnataka as they too pay a commission of 30 per cent to get the sanctioned grants released for them.
Reacting to the statements, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said his government considers the seer's allegations "very seriously".
The accusation comes close on the heels of BJP leader K S Eshwarappa resigning from his ministerial position on Saturday after a contractor allegedly died by suicide in a hotel room in Udupi on April 12.
The contractor, in a purported WhatsApp message, had charged that he was compelled to take the extreme step because he was unable to meet Eshwarappa's demand of 40 per cent cut in a public work taken up in Hindalga village of Belagavi district in 2021.
"If a grant is sanctioned for a swami (seer), it reaches the mutt after 30 per cent deduction. This is the plain truth. Officials clearly tell you that unless the amount is deducted, your project will not start," Dingaleshwar Swamiji of Balehosur Mutt in Shirahatti taluk of Gadag said during a rally organised in Badagandi village in Bagalkote district.
The seer charged that none of the government programmes is happening properly in the state.
"There is a pathetic situation of paying 30 per cent commission. The work starts only after paying 30 per cent. Many contractors have stopped their works. There are only talks but no development is happening. Many MLAs fix the rate first before starting the work," the Swamiji claimed.
He added that this was not just his accusation but that of the people of the state and demanded that corruption must stop.
"There is big injustice happening to northern Karnataka. There is no system in place in northern Karnataka. Roads, bus services, education, schools are in bad shape. There is shortage of teachers here. Irrigation works are pathetic," the seer said.
Commenting on the allegations made by the Lingayat seer, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, "He (the seer) is a great swamiji with a great track record. The entire state knows it. I only request His Holiness to give the entire details as to who paid, for what purpose it was paid and whom it was paid to. We will certainly inquire and go into the depth of the case. We consider his allegation very seriously."
The seer's charge, though, gave the opposition Congress an ammunition to target the ruling BJP.
"It is a matter of shame that the BJP, which calls itself as a saviour of dharma (righteousness), is eating 30 per cent commission into the grants sanctioned for monasteries and temples," former chief minister Siddaramaiah said.
The Congress leader who has been calling the BJP government a ’40 per cent commission government', wondered why there was ’concession' of 10 per cent, and asked the BJP government not to limit to seeking 30 per cent commission from the temples and monasteries.
"How is your ’Dharma Rakshana' (protection of righteousness) when you take commission from God?” Siddaramaiah sought to know.
He also slammed CM Bommai for his statement in Hosapete during the BJP executive committee meeting on Sunday that the BJP would lay bare the Congress party's corruption before the public.
"Don't make empty noise that you (Bommai) have evidences of corruption during Congress regime. Release the document and then talk," Siddaramaiah challenged the chief minister.
Allocation of grants to mutts and monasteries is not new in Karnataka. Successive governments have been releasing funds for mutts to carry out their religious and social works.