A bill providing for the imposition of a 10% tax on temples that earn revenues of more than Rs 1 crore failed to pass Karnataka’s Legislative Council on Friday.

This came two days after the bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly.

The ruling Congress, which has 30 seats in the 75-member Council, is outnumbered by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 35 seats. The Janata Dal (Secular), the Hindutva party’s ally, has eight members.

The Assembly had passed the 2024 Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Amendment Bill, which mandated a 5% income tax on temples with revenue between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore and a 10% tax on those with revenue exceeding Rs 1 crore.

When the Bill was proposed, the Bharatiya Janata Party accused the state’s Congress government of implementing “anti-Hindu” policies. “Through the Hindu Religious Endowments amendment act, it [the Congress government] is trying to siphon off donations as well as offerings from Hindu temples and religious institutions in order to fill its empty coffers,” BJP’s Karnataka chief Vijayendra Yediyurappa alleged in a social media post on Thursday.

However, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Thursday that the BJP’s allegations against the bill “appear to be misrepresented for political gain”. “The common pool [of collected tax] is administered solely for religious purposes connected with the Hindu religion,” he said.

Siddaramaiah said that currently temples earning more than Rs 10 lakh paid 10% tax. However, after the amendment, only temples earning above Rs 1 crore will pay 10% tax.

Congress leader and state minister Ramalinga Reddy on Friday defended the bill, saying that the current tax slabs are based on amendments made by the BJP government in the state in 2011.

“At that time, up to Rs 5 lakh, there were about 34,000 temples – they did not give any money for Dharmika Parishad,” ANI quoted Reddy as saying. “From Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs, there are about 193 ‘B grade’ temples – they have to give 5%. More than Rs 10 lakh, there are about 205 temples – they have to give 10%. They [BJP] approved this amendment in 2011 in the Assembly.”

Reddy said that the tax collected from such temples could be used to repair “the most neglected ‘C grade’ temples in Karnataka”.

Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao said that under the existing tax slab, temples earning more than Rs 25 lakh are being charged 10% tax. The Congress is raising this 10% tax slab to “Rs 1 crore and above,” Rao said on Friday. “We are, in fact, helping the smaller temples,” he added.